CNN Business and Moody's Analytics have created a "Back to Normal Index" and used it to rank the US states on progress to date in returning to "normal" after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The index combines 37 indicators measuring:
- Retail sales
- Industrial production
- Durable goods orders
- Housing starts
- Home listings for sale
- Restaurant bookings
- Hours worked at small businesses
- Mortgage applications
- Rail traffic
- Google cellphone data
The index is intended to provide "a comprehensive understanding of how businesses and consumers are responding to the pandemic."
- States that locked down hard early are now enjoying lower infection rates and stronger economies.
- Economies of states that were quicker to end shelter-in-place rules and reopen businesses have suffered.
- Tourism-dependent Hawaii at #50 lags all other states on returning to normal.
- Less urbanized economies are doing best: South Dakota with an index of 93/100 is #1.
In New England, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are ranked in the Top 15, Massachusetts - which because of 17%+ unemployment in service jobs had in 2Q2020 its worst economic quarter in history, down almost 44% - in the bottom 15, and Connecticut among the 20 "similar to average" states.
However, I can't help wondering: being perhaps less tourism-dependent than Hawaii, but still very tourism-dependent, why are Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in the top 15? Economies are certainly less urbanized, but many of those rural businesses depend on tourism. Do we have more public-sector jobs than other states or ??