RALEIGH – More than 300,000 jobs have evaporated since Governor Roy Cooper commenced his Pandemic Panic authoritarianism. From first closing restaurants, then closing schools, then a bevy of other businesses, limiting gatherings, mandating masks, and targeting the non-compliant with forceful shutdowns.
The unilaterally decreed recession immediately began destroying livelihoods as 1.5 million North Carolinians filed for unemployment. Now, more than six months later, Cooper’s reluctance to lift lockdown means we have more than 300,000 fewer jobs than this time last year.
From John Hood in the Carolina Journal:
“There are about 300,000 fewer jobs in North Carolina today than there were in February, before the start of the COVID-19 recession. That’s a 7.5% drop in total employment — the biggest decline in the southern United States.
Our labor market also compares poorly on other measures. Our September unemployment rate of 7.3% is higher than the regional average. Our neighboring states of South Carolina (5.1%), Virginia (6.2%), Tennessee (6.3%), and Georgia (6.4%) all have lower jobless rates.
Nor is this just a statistical artifact driven by workers giving up and dropping out of the labor force. If you compare the ratio of people employed to the total working-age population, all four neighboring states still rank higher than North Carolina.
On the other hand, Georgia and South also rank significantly higher in COVID death rates — 72 and 71 per 100,000 residents, respectively, vs. North Carolina’s 37, according to the latest counts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Virginia (40) and Tennessee (42) have modestly higher death rates, as well.
For the most part, all sides of the COVID debate agree that Gov. Roy Cooper’s regulations have been among the strictest in the region. Disagreements arise about whether the benefits of Cooper’s approach have outweighed the costs — counted not just in jobs, incomes, and businesses lost but in adverse medical, educational, and social consequences — as well as what North Carolina should do from this point forward to battle COVID in the most cost-effective manner.
I have opinions about these questions, naturally. I bet you do, too. But can we first agree that some questions can’t be answered authoritatively right now, given our necessarily limited information?
For example, while it’s possible Cooper’s tighter regulations on bars, restaurants, public venues, and educational settings have reduced viral transmission enough to explain some of the difference in COVID death rates, there are clearly other variables at work. Some states with regulations as tight or tighter than ours have higher death rates. Other states with many fewer business restrictions than in North Carolina, and where most schools are open for in-person instruction, have comparable or lower death rates. [CONTINUE READING]”