Shutdowns in Blue states did not cause the pandemic jobs losses

People started staying at home before the shutdowns were ordered, data shows

With the input Indiana University economists Sumedha Gupta, Kosali Simon and Coady Wing, the Washington Post released their conclusions on pandemic-related economic research. In a nutshell, the shutdowns didn’t kill jobs; the virus did, although Trump and his cult spent months blaming Democratic states for them. Most of their findings came from analyzing cellphone activity data.


  • Employment and activity declined before shutdowns hit:
    • People started to stay home well before states imposed shutdowns.
    • In the chaotic early days of the pandemic, most people didn’t wait for official stay-at-home orders, Simon said. In every state, they stopped going to work around the weekend of March 14, as uncertainty soaredstock markets collapsed and the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak to be a pandemic.
  • Research shows the virus itself caused an enormous drop in activity and shutdowns caused a small additional decline:
    • Business fell by more than half (53 percent) regardless of whether a place shut down, as people everywhere were trying not to leave their homes. In shutdown areas, activity fell another 7 percent, meaning shutdowns caused less than an eighth of the drop in business.
    • “Economists found that businesses that drew the largest crowds before the pandemic were the same ones that saw the sharpest declines, relative to their size. That indicates consumers were spooked by the virus and sought out stores they knew were likely to have few customers.”
  • When states started re-opening, business activity did not return:
  • Research does show a Red v. Blue divide:
    • Red states did recover more jobs a lot more quickly, but Red states tend to have a lower population density than Blue states.
    • Rural areas, regardless of the state’s political political party leadership, recovered quicker than urban areas. But, urban areas in Red states did recover slightly faster than urban areas in Blue states. However, population density again played a key role.

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