The Fitch analysis indicates that states in the highest quartile—where more than 66 percent of the population was vaccinated against COVID-19 at the beginning of August—recorded leisure and hospitality job growth around three times higher than states in the lowest quartile—where less than 50 percent of the population was vaccinated.
In percentage terms, leisure and hospitality job growth between March and August 2021 averaged nearly 12 percent in the highest quartile states for vaccination, and less than 4 percent in the states in the lowest quartile, according to the report.
Vermont, for example, which had the highest vaccination rate in the country at 75 percent in August 2021, recovered 23 percent of leisure and hospitality jobs between March and August. Wyoming, by contrast, which had the second-lowest vaccination rate at 44 percent in August 2021, shed 8 percent of leisure and hospitality jobs in the same period, according to Fitch.
While Fitch analysts said that vaccination rates show a “notable relationship” with leisure and hospitality sector job growth, the findings do not purport to prove a causal link and Fitch acknowledged that other factors were likely at play, including the prevalence of other public health measures and labor supply.
The leisure and hospitality sector was hit particularly hard amid the pandemic, suffering the highest proportion of job loss, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Between February 2020 and August 2021, job loss in the leisure and hospitality sector accounted for 31 percent of all employment loss, followed by education and health services (17 percent), and trade, transportation, and utilities (10 percent).
The least impacted sectors were finance and mining (1 percent each), state government and information technology (3 percent each), and construction (4 percent).
Blue states—which have higher vaccination rates than red states—tend to have a higher proportion of leisure and hospitality jobs than red states, where industries like agriculture and manufacturing play a bigger role.
Red states, on the whole, have dominated the economic recovery, recording the lowest rates of unemployment in the United States in August 2021, recent data showed.
The top seven states with the lowest unemployment rates in August were Alabama (3.1 percent), Idaho (2.9 percent), Nebraska (2.2 percent), New Hampshire (3.0 percent), South Dakota (2.9 percent), Utah (2.6 percent), and Vermont (3.0 percent), according to a Sept. 17 release of state-level unemployment data by the Commerce Department.
With the exception of Vermont, which has a Democrat-controlled state House and Senate and a GOP governor, all have Republican trifectas, meaning Republicans hold the governorship, a majority in the state Senate, and a majority in the state House.
The seven states with the highest unemployment rates in August were Hawaii (7.0 percent), California (7.5 percent), Connecticut (7.2 percent), Illinois (7.0 percent), New Mexico (7.2 percent), New Jersey (7.2 percent), and New York (7.4 percent). All seven have Democrat trifectas.
By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’
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