Jobs Data Show Two Post-COVID Americas

The Labor Department announced on Friday that the economy had recovered another 372,000 net jobs in June from the many jobs lost during COVID. But with the nation likely hurtling toward a declaration of recession, there’s a lot more to the story than these national numbers, for the fact is, those jobs are not being added back evenly throughout the 50 states. 

We alluded last week to the population drain from which California is suffering: According to estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, domestic migration to other states caused the Golden State to lose a net population almost equivalent to Oakland last year. And it turns out that this is a problem in nearly all Democratic-run states.

New York, for example, lost the net equivalent of Buffalo plus Albany to domestic migration. Illinois lost the rough equivalent of Decatur plus Skokie. 

One reason is a lack of freedom in these states, particularly of the economic sort. But another related reason is the simple lack of jobs to sustain the population. 

The United States precipitously lost 22 million jobs between February and April 2020, the opening months of the pandemic. Today, the national economy is still about 500,000 jobs short of recovering them all. But the story of job recovery has been something like a tale of two states — or at least a tale of two kinds of states. 

To this day, Democratic states have yet to recover the jobs they lost in the pandemic. Some — New York, for example — are nowhere close. Altogether, states that voted for President Joe Biden are still short a combined 1.4 million fewer jobs than they had before the pandemic restrictions hit. New York leads the nation in the number of jobs still missing, with 420,000, but Hawaii lost the largest share of its jobs, at 8.5%. 

On the other hand, states that voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 have recovered every lost job and added almost half a million besides. Texas added the largest raw number of net jobs (333,000), and Idaho led the way in percentage increase since February 2020 (up 5.3%). Ten of the states Trump won in 2020 have regained all the jobs lost in the pandemic, compared to just three of the states Biden won. 

And it is worth noting that this comparison would come out considerably worse for the Biden states had the president not squeaked out victories in Georgia and Arizona, two Republican-governed states that have already exceeded their pre-COVID job totals by 192,000. Put those two states back into the classic red state-blue state model of the 2000 election, and the red states added 680,000 jobs from February 2020 through May 2022, whereas blue states have lost almost 1.6 million. 

The point here is not to rub anything in anyone’s face. It is that one model of governance works well, and the other, which Biden is trying to impose nationally, does not work so well. It turns out that draconian COVID lockdowns, high taxes, and a war against your own state’s gig workers are cobblestones that pave the path to hell. That’s why the nation’s middle class is sorting itself into two post-COVID Americas — not along political lines but between a growing, prosperous, and working America on the one hand and a stagnant, declining America on the other.

Reporting by The Washington Examiner.