Center for American Progress

RELEASE: States With Shorter Stay-at-Home Orders Saw No Economic Gain
Press Release

RELEASE: States With Shorter Stay-at-Home Orders Saw No Economic Gain

Washington, D.C. — A new analysis from the Center for American Progress shows that states that had short or no stay-at-home orders saw no economic gain, while suffering worse public health crises than the states with long stay-at-home orders.

Using the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data, the authors found that indicators such as employment status, ability to meet mortgage or rent obligations, and ability to purchase normal levels of food worsened in states with stay-at-home orders shorter than 53 days, the median length of shutdown, after those orders ended. In comparison, the same metrics improved in states with stay-at-home orders that lasted longer than 53 days.

The analysis also offers a partial explanation for why shorter stay-at-home orders weren’t economically prudent: states’ interdependent economies. A state that pursued an aggressive reopening strategy may have seen only small economic gains since much of its economic activity depends on business interactions with states that acted more cautiously. The piece makes the case that a federal approach to stay-at-home orders would have ultimately been better not only for public health but for the economy as well.

“Our analysis shows that governors who hastily ended stay-at-home orders not only exacerbated the public health crisis, but also may have made economic conditions worse in their states,” said Christian E. Weller, a senior fellow at CAP and co-author of the brief. “We believe the reason for this is that just as the virus can’t be bound by state lines, neither can a state’s economy. Our results underscore the need for a coordinated nationwide approach to combating the virus, led by the federal government.”

Read the issue brief: “All Risk, No Reward: Identifying the Economic Fallout From Premature Reopenings” by Christian E. Weller and Ryan Zamarripa

For more information or to speak with an expert, contact Julia Cusick at [email protected].

To find the latest CAP resources on the coronavirus, visit our coronavirus resource page.