The U.S. has a long way to go before our economy fully recovers from the damage inflicted by the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In all, we’re still roughly 3.6 million jobs short of our pre-pandemic employment levels at the national level. But the state of the recovery varies quite a bit at the state level—with four states now having fully recovered all the jobs they lost since the pandemic began.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Texas, Arizona, Utah, and Idaho have all regained their February 2020 employment levels. This graph from the Journal shows how these states are overperforming the national recovery:
What do these four states all have in common? Well, for one thing, they’re all run by Republicans, and had less-harsh COVID-19 restrictions than many blue states.
“The states—all Republican controlled—also have had relatively relaxed Covid-19 restrictions during the pandemic, which economists say softened the blow on their economies,” the Journal notes.
Arizona is a prime example.
“Arizona rapidly returned to its prior peak of employment because compared to the nation we didn’t fall as far,” University of Arizona economist George Hammond said. “One big reason is because the stay-at-home order in Arizona wasn’t very restrictive.”
The takeaway here becomes even more clear when you zoom out. Red states have tended to have consistently lower unemployment rates throughout the recovery to date than blue states, because they tended to have less harsh restrictions on their economies.
Trade-offs are real. But what makes this even worse is that it’s dubious whether the harsh lockdown measures and restrictions even helped stop the spread of COVID-19. Many studies have found no correlation between the strictness of lockdowns and COVID-19 outcomes.
Such drastic infringements on peoples’ liberty wouldn’t necessarily be justified regardless. But to immolate Americans’ economic fortunes and not even achieve improved public health outcomes just adds more insult to injury.
So, don’t be surprised if people continue to pour out of heavy lockdown, high-tax states like New York and head to brighter pastures.