Wednesday, February 24, 2021

A tale of two states

 The Florida Versus California Showdown | American Institute for Economic Research - Amelia Janaskie:

February 22, 2021 - "Florida and California are remarkably similar for their warm climates, beaches, tourist destinations, immigrant populations, and more, but both states could not be more different with respect to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. Florida operates on close to zero pandemic-related restrictions whereas California maintains strict lockdown policies. In California, virtually all public schools are closed, restaurants must follow unwavering capacity limits, travelers must quarantine for ten days, and on the list goes. Meanwhile, Florida’s schools are all open for in-person instruction, state-wide restrictions do not exist for restaurants, and there is no travel quarantine implemented by the state....

"While the media labels California Governor Newsom a 'lockdown fanatic' for his authoritarian approach, they call Florida Governor DeSantis 'DeathSantis' for being too relaxed. The two governors are polar opposites in how they handle Covid, but their outcomes are peculiarly similar. In total, California experienced more cases per 100,000 people, while Florida had more deaths per 100,000 people. During the summer of 2020, cases and deaths spiked higher in Florida, but the course switched from November through January as cases and deaths peaked in California.... 

Graph courtesy The Dossier

"Rather, the outcomes suggest that lockdown measures might not have a significant impact on lowering the number of Covid cases and deaths. But a more comprehensive look at the economic and social well-being of the states potentially reveals a greater disparity. 

  • "First, the unemployment rate in Florida remains consistently lower than California’s. As of December 2020, Florida’s (preliminary) unemployment rate was at 6.1% while California’s was 9%. This means that a staggering 1,700,383 people are unemployed in California, compared to 614,327 in Florida. (The gap between the states is still immense when the numbers are adjusted for population.)
  • "The gross domestic product (GDP) of both states is similar, though Florida’s annual rate is slightly higher. California ranks as the largest economy – in terms of GDP – of all US states and even exceeds the United Kingdom’s. So, the drop in California’s GDP is not only steeper than Florida’s but also takes a greater toll on the entire United States economy.
  • "Another revealing factor is inbound and outbound migration. According to 2020 data collected from two moving companies (U-Haul and United Van Lines), Florida is among the top states for inbound migration, and California ranks high for outbound migration. While these migration patterns follow previous 2019 moving trends, lockdown policies still might play into other factors for why people are leaving California, including taxes, cost of living, and affordable housing. Florida conversely attracts movers for having no income tax, low housing prices, and agreeable climate....

"While Governor Newsom keeps his state at high level of lockdowns despite glaring consequences, Californians are becoming increasingly irate as they sign a petition for a recall against him. As of February 2nd, Newsom’s approval rating rests at 46%, a sharp drop from September’s rating of 64%. Meanwhile, DeSantis is in the green with an approval rating of 54%....

"California and Florida provide a clear example for the dubious efficacy of Covid-19 restrictions. Their disparities elucidate the enduring costs of lockdowns with regard to the economy and livelihoods of residents. The states also pave the way for us to better understand whether authoritarian measures truly work in controlling a virus and, on a greater scale, the trajectory of human behavior."

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