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ME, NH, VT, RI in US top 15 states on 'returning to normal' from COVID-19
28 August 2020 (Edited 28 August 2020)

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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."

Analysts observe:

  • 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 ??

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