(The Center Square) – Red states fared better than blue states did during and after state lockdowns and in their governments’ response to the COVID-19 crisis last year, a new analysis published by the Committee To Unleash Prosperity has found.
The report, which was also published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, evaluated how states balanced the health of their citizens with other policies. The report compared which state policies minimized or maximized job losses and created long-term educational setbacks or benefits for school-aged children. It also compared the number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus by state and mortality rates.
“Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during Covid, particularly in blue states,” CUP co-founder Stephen Moore said. He hopes the findings will help inform better public policy decisions in the future.
The governors of nine of the top 10 states that fared the best are Republicans. Nine states received A grades. Utah fared the best in all categories, followed by Nebraska, Vermont, Montana, South Dakota, Florida, New Hampshire, Maine, and Arkansas. Tenth-ranking Idaho received a B grade. Maine is the only top-10 state with a Democratic governor.
The governors of eight of the worst ranking states are Democrats. In the bottom 10, six received F and F- grades and four received D grades.
New Jersey fared the worst, followed by the District of Columbia and New York, all receiving F- grades. New Mexico, California and Illinois all received F grades.
Rounding out the bottom 10 receiving D grades were Maryland, Nevada, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. Maryland is the only state in the bottom 10 with a Republican governor.
All failing states reported high age-adjusted death rates, high unemployment, significant GDP losses, and kept their schools shut down much longer than almost all other states, the report found.
The top states reported lower death rates, low unemployment and had higher percentages of their school-age children receiving in-person instruction. Three reported GDP growth and the rest reported minimal GDP losses. In-person instruction was above 60% for eight of the nine A-grade states, with the exception of Maine.
When comparing the best and worst states, Utah and New Jersey, the data show that despite drastically different lockdown policies, more people died from COVID-19 in New Jersey than in Utah. New Jersey, which has a greater population than Utah, had higher numbers in two categories: “Age and Metabolic Health Adjusted COVID Deaths per 100,000” and “All-Cause Excess Deaths,” according to the analysis.
In the “Age and Metabolic Health Adjusted COVID Deaths per 100,000” category, Utah reported 252.7 compared to New Jersey’s 379.5. “All Cause Excess Deaths” in Utah accounted for 10.6%. They accounted for 17.1% in New Jersey. The mortality average for Utah was slightly higher, 0.84%, compared to New Jersey’s, 0.82%.
Over the same time period, Utah’s unemployment rate was 1.5% compared to New Jersey’s 5.8%. Utah’s industry adjusted GDP was 0.6% compared to New Jersey’s -4.7%. While roughly 87.3% of Utah’s school-aged children received in-person instruction, only 37.7% of New Jersey’s did.
Utah received a perfect score of 100 (A+) compared to New Jersey’s score of -3.61 (F-).
The analysis also evaluated other studies that found that locking down businesses, stores, churches, schools, and restaurants had almost zero impact on public health outcomes. States with stricter lockdown policies reported “virtually no better performance in Covid death rates than states that remained mostly open for business,” the analysis found.
It also found that keeping schools closed had “almost no impact on the death rates of children or adults, but it did severe damage to the educational progress of students.”
When it comes to employment, states that implemented strict lockdown policies reported unemployment rates roughly 2% higher, on average, than states that didn’t impose them. Most lockdown states still haven’t fully recovered the jobs they lost when the coronavirus first hit. They’re also still grappling with persistently high unemployment two years later.