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Coronavirus and the Economy: The US States Most At-Risk

Coronavirus and the Economy: The US States Most At-Risk

Certain states will fare worse with the economic strain of the pandemic

Cindy Ord via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has had sweeping effects that have impacted millions of Americans. Beyond the illnesses and death, COVID-19 has dealt the country an economic blow due to the closure of businesses and massive unemployment. Much like how some industries have been hit harder than others, different states across the country are experiencing more economic devastation than others, according to a June 2020 report from personal finance website WalletHub. Here’s how the economies of each state and Washington, D.C., compare to one another, ranked from least to most exposed to the fallout of the pandemic.

Methodology

Methodology

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To determine which states’ economies were most exposed to COVID-19, WalletHub compared 14 metrics. These included unemployment claims, changes in consumer spending and the share of state gross domestic product (GDP) generated by highly affected industries. Other factors were how each state was prepared to handle the crisis via work-from-home infrastructure and workers’ access to paid sick leave.

#51 North Dakota

#51 North Dakota

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One of the happiest states in America, North Dakota has the state economy least exposed to coronavirus, thanks to a low share of employment in highly affected industries and some of the highest state rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures.

#50 Nebraska

#50 Nebraska

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Nebraskans can kick back at some of the coolest retro drive-ins in America and not worry as their state’s economy is positioned well to withstand the storm of coronavirus. Nebraska fared well in WalletHub’s best state fiscal condition index, earning it the No. 50 spot overall. Nebraska also has the second-lowest GDP generated by highly affected industries as a share of total state GDP.

#49 Missouri

#49 Missouri

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Americans have been eagerly awaiting the return of their favorite baseball teams, including Missourans with the St. Louis Cardinals. Along with a history of World Series wins, Missouri was also the state most prepared for the digital economy. It tied for the top spot in that category with Georgia, Michigan, Ohio and Utah, helping propel it to the No. 49 rank overall.

#48 Wyoming

#48 Wyoming

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The pandemic has changed how Americans travel, with many opting for road trips or spending time in nature, like Yellowstone National Park, in order to practice social distancing. Overall, Wyoming’s state economy is among those least exposed to coronavirus. It tied with North Dakota for having the highest state rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures to rank No. 48 overall.

#47 Idaho

#47 Idaho

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Livestock is Idaho’s largest agricultural sector, and the state’s meat processing industry faced extraordinary demand during the coronavirus pandemic. According to WalletHub’s study, Idaho has the lowest share of employment from highly affected industries in the country, earning it the No. 47 spot. The metro areas of Boise and Nampa are also predicted to have the strongest housing markets in the country after coronavirus.

#46 Alaska

#46 Alaska

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Alaska is one of the worst states for working from home during the pandemic, in part because it was the least prepared for the digital economy. However, the state has among the highest share of workers with access to paid sick leave and the second-best resources for businesses to better cope with the crisis, landing it at No. 46.

#45 Utah

45. Utah

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A train traffic hub that’s also home to one of the most beautiful places of worship in the country, Utah tied with four other states as being the most prepared state for the digital economy. However, it has the third-highest share of employees from highly affected industries in the country, bringing it to No. 45 overall.

#44 Arkansas

44. Arkansas

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One of the world’s biggest businesses, Walmart, is based in Arkansas, which comes in at No. 44 in WalletHub’s study. It’s in the top five states with the lowest share of workers working from home and has the second-worst work-from-home infrastructure in the country. However, it came in lowest out of all the states when it comes to economic reliance on highly affected industries and workforce.

#43 Oregon

43. Oregon

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Oregon has the best resources for businesses to cope better with the crisis but has a large share of jobs reliant on advertising and public relations, healthcare and social assistance, and employment services. Overall, the Beaver State comes in at No. 43.

#42 Iowa

42. Iowa

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Iowa, home to some of the best lake towns in America, is the state that had the third-lowest share of employment in highly affected industries. It also ranked well across metrics, helping it claim the No. 42 spot.

#41 Washington

41. Washington

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Washington is home to some big-name brands, including Amazon and Starbucks. It also ties four other states for being the place with the highest share of workers with access to paid sick leave, which helps curb coronavirus cases. Overall, Washington’s economy comes in 41st in the country in terms of susceptibility to coronavirus.

#40 Vermont

40. Vermont

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Though Vermont lands at No. 40 overall in WalletHub’s ranking, it’s second to only Florida when it comes to having the highest state GDP generated by highly affected industries as a share of total GDP. On the other hand, it has the second-highest share of workers working from home in the country.

#39 South Dakota

39. South Dakota

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Home to one of the most-visited tourist attractions in the country, South Dakota saw empty parking lots at Mount Rushmore and other destinations during the pandemic. The state had the second-lowest share of employment from highly affected industries, according to WalletHub, as well as the highest ranking in the best fiscal condition index.

#38 West Virginia

38. West Virginia

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Home to historic landmarks like Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia has the third-worst work-from-home infrastructure but ranks among the top five states with the highest state rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures. These factors offset each other, landing West Virginia at No. 38.

#37 Maine

37. Maine

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Maine, one of the best places in the country to watch the sunrise, has the fourth-highest GDP generated by highly affected industries as a share of its total state GDP. Maine’s GDP highly depends on accommodation and food services as well as retail trade, but other metrics balance this out to land the Pine Tree State at No. 38.

#36 Tennessee

36. Tennessee

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Tennessee is known for its iconic state foods and important landmarks, however, the Volunteer State has the third-lowest share of employment from small businesses compared to other states. It also ranked among the top five states in the best state fiscal condition index, landing it at No. 36 overall.

#35 California

35. California

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California may be the best state to live in for nurses, but the state’s economy has had struggles because of the pandemic. Its GDP is the second-most dependent on real estate, rental and leasing, but it's tied with four other states for having the highest share of workers with access to paid sick leave, landing it in the middle of the pack overall at No. 35.

#34 Ohio

34. Ohio

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If you’re a craft beer fan, now might be the time to support your favorite Ohio brew. While the Buckeye State is tied for the top spot when it comes to being most prepared for a digital economy, it did less well with resources for businesses to cope better with the crisis, putting it at No. 34.

#33 Connecticut

33. Connecticut

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Connecticut is known for its UConn school spirit — and for ranking as the state with the worst fiscal condition before the pandemic. However, Connecticut lands at No. 33 thanks to lower reliance on highly affected industries.

#32 Arizona

32. Arizona

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Arizona, home to the jaw-dropping natural wonder the Grand Canyon, is not the best- or worst-positioned state in any of WalletHub’s key metrics. While it’s GDP is more reliant on real estate than the majority of other states, its economy’s overall risk only comes in at No. 31.

#31 Minnesota

31. Minnesota

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Minnesota, the best state to raise a family in, has one of the least-reliant state economies on sectors such as accommodation and food services and real estate, however, it scored lower in business resources, bringing it to No. 31 overall.

#30 Kansas

30. Kansas

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Kansas has one of the lowest GDP generated by highly affected industries as a share of total state GDP — but it’s also tied for having the lowest state rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures. Overall, Kansas comes in at No. 30 on WalletHub’s list.

#29 Delaware

29. Delaware

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Compared to every other state and Washington, D.C., Delaware has the lowest GDP generated by highly affected industries as a share of total state GDP. However, its worse rank in terms of resources for businesses brings it to No. 29 overall.

#28 Indiana

28. Indiana

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Indiana is set up for higher economic risk and coronavirus risk as it is tied for having the lowest share of workers with access to paid sick leave in the country. However, Indiana also has the fourth-lowest share of employment from highly affected industries, landing it at No. 28 overall.

#27 Massachusetts

27. Massachusetts

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Massachusetts scored third-worst in the state fiscal condition index and is tied for first in GDP reliance on the highly affected educational services sector, landing it at No. 27 overall.

#26 Alabama

26. Alabama

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Alabama has some of the country’s lowest shares of employment from highly affected industries but also has one of the lowest number of workers working from home. The state is also tied for having the lowest share of workers with access to paid sick leave in the country, bringing it down to No. 26. If you’re trying to stay healthy, there are plenty of habits you can learn from people who never get sick.

#25 Colorado

25. Colorado

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Colorado ranks as the state with the highest share of workers working from home and in the top five states for work-from-home infrastructure, buoying it to a No. 25 rank overall.

#24 Wisconsin

24. Wisconsin

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Wisconsin boasts natural beauty and photogenic vacation spots that attract tourists from across the Midwest. However, coronavirus has disrupted tourism as well as the election season in Wisconsin over the summer. Wisconsin ranked among the worst 10 states when it came to resources for supporting businesses, landing it at No. 24 overall.

#23 Hawaii

23. Hawaii

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With its amazing natural beauty, Hawaii’s biggest industry is tourism, and according to WalletHub’s calculations, the state has the third-highest GDP generated by highly affected industries as a share of its total GDP. The loss of visitors from around the world hurt not only the accommodation and food services sector but also transportation.

#22 Michigan

22. Michigan

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While Michigan auto workers have gone back to work, the state will continue to feel the economic effects of COVID-19. Michigan tied with four other states for the top spot when it came to being prepared for a digital economy, but it also tied for having the lowest share of workers with access to paid sick leave. The state’s comparative lack of resources for businesses to better cope with the crisis brought it down to No. 22.

#21 Texas

21. Texas

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While many Texans have been whipping up their favorite recipes, supporting local businesses and learning new skills in quarantine, the state itself has been performing well across many of WalletHub’s metrics. Unfortunately, the state’s high reliance on the highly affected oil and gas industry has put its economy more at risk, landing it at No. 21.

#20 Montana

20. Montana

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Out of all the states, Montana has the fourth-highest share of workers working from home but also the fifth-worst work-from-home infrastructure, which is based on the average internet speed and the access to communication infrastructure. That means it’s harder in Montana to efficiently work from home, which will negatively affect the state economy. The state ranks 20th in WalletHub’s calculations.

#19 South Carolina

19. South Carolina

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South Carolina is known for its classic Southern cuisine and for the historic colorful streets in Charleston, so it’s not surprising that the state’s GDP is highly reliant on the accommodation and food services industry. It also has provided fewer resources to businesses than other states, landing it at No. 19 overall.

#18 Pennsylvania

18. Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania had some of the lowest rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures compared to every other state. It also scored low in other metrics related to providing resources to businesses to weather the storm, bringing it to No. 18 overall.

#17 New Hampshire

17. New Hampshire

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New Hampshire tied for fourth place as the least prepared for a digital economy, but it also has the fifth-highest share of its workforce working from home. While it did well in the resources for businesses category, the state has a high reliance on highly affected industries, especially education services and arts, entertainment and recreation. New Hampshire’s sandy beaches and boardwalks are a big tourism draw for other New Englanders.

#16 New Mexico

16. New Mexico

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New Mexico came in with one of the highest rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures. However, it also has the fourth-worst work-from-home infrastructure and high reliance on the highly affected mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction industries for employment and its GDP.

#15 Oklahoma

15. Oklahoma

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Oklahoma comes in at No. 15 based on a middle-of-the-pack ranking in terms of resources for businesses and a higher reliance on highly affected industries. It was the state whose GDP was hit hardest by downturns in the mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction industries.

#14 New Jersey

14. New Jersey

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New Jersey’s famous historic boardwalks have endured storms before, but the state may soon be facing an economic storm in the wake of coronavirus. The state ranks No. 14 in WalletHub’s rankings as it tied for third with the lowest rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures and tied for first as the least prepared state to handle the new digital economy.

#13 Rhode Island

13. Rhode Island

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Rhode Island is home to some hidden gems and romantic vistas, but its economy is No. 13 when it comes to the negative economic effects of the pandemic. Rhode Island tied for first place with Alaska and New Jersey for being least prepared for the digital economy. The state’s GDP is heavily dependent on education services, and a large share of residents rely on the same sector, as well as arts, entertainment and recreation, for work.

#12 Nevada

12. Nevada

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Nevada is home to some of the most iconic landmarks in America, and its GDP and jobs are highly dependent on accommodation and food services; arts, entertainment and recreation; and transportation. The state also tied for being the fourth-worst prepared state for a digital economy, leading it to a No. 12 rank overall.

#11 North Carolina

11. North Carolina

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North Carolina — home to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, charming small towns and the biggest mansion in America — has the 11th-most exposed economy, with high employment reliance on the accommodation and food services industries.

#10 Maryland

10. Maryland

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Maryland’s GDP is reliant on two industries that have been highly affected by the coronavirus pandemic: educational services; and real estate, rental and leasing. With schools reopening this fall, here’s how to help keep your kids healthy.

#9 Illinois

9. Illinois

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Chicago is one of the safest cities in the world, but the city’s coronavirus closures and restrictions led its famous lakefront to look deserted. The entire state of Illinois ranked as the ninth-most exposed state in the survey due to its high share of jobs in advertising and public relations; transportation; and employment services. It also tied for first with the lowest share of workers with access to paid sick leave and the lowest state rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures.

#8 Virginia

8. Virginia

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Many beloved businesses have been forced to close in the wake of coronavirus, including in Virginia, which has the sixth-most exposed economy, according to WalletHub. ​​​​​​

#7 Georgia

7. Georgia

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Georgia may be one of the best states to retire in, but its economy is also among those most exposed to coronavirus. While it was one of the states most prepared for the digital economy, it also has one of the lowest shares of employment from small businesses and a large share of its workforce works in the highly affected transportation and employment services fields.

#6 Washington, D.C.

6. Washington, D.C.

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The nation’s capital comes in at No. 6 in this study because of how it fares in share of employment from highly affected industries. It’s tied with New Jersey and New York as the place in the country with the highest share of jobs in the advertising, public relations and related industries, which faced many unexpected layoffs and furloughs. It also came out as most dependent on real estate, rental and leasing jobs as well as employment services jobs.

#5 New York

5. New York

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New York instituted some of the strictest coronavirus restrictions in the country in an attempt to flatten the curve. The state has the fourth-highest share of employment from highly affected industries, such as entertainment, hospitality and restaurants, making its economy the fifth-worst exposed in the country.

#4 Kentucky

4. Kentucky

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Kentucky is famous for hosting the annual Kentucky Derby — the event has inspired the state’s signature cocktail and most iconic pie. However, the Derby was among the many milestones and events postponed due to the pandemic. WalletHub predicts Kentucky’s economy will be the fourth-worst hit in the country due to the state tying for the lowest share of workers with access to paid sick leave and one of the lowest state rainy day funds as a share of state expenditures.

#3 Mississippi

3. Mississippi

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Mississippi tied with Kentucky for lowest share of workers with access to paid sick leave. The state also has the lowest share of workers working from home and the worst work-from-home infrastructure in the country, making it the third-most affected state economy in the country.

#2 Louisiana

2. Louisiana

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According to WalletHub, the second-worst positioned state economy is that of Louisiana. A culinary destination known for its Creole and Cajun cuisine, Louisiana’s economy relies on highly affected industries, such as tourism and restaurants, which in turn affected the crawfish industry and more across the state. Louisiana also has the second-lowest share of workers working from home.

#1 Florida

1. Florida

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Tourism is one of the biggest industries in Florida, home to beautiful beaches, Walt Disney World and tons of other attractions. Of all the states in the country, it has the highest share of employment from highly affected industries and the highest GDP generated by highly affected industries as a share of total state GDP, making it the state economy most exposed to coronavirus overall. If you were planning a Disney World trip before the pandemic, here’s how to rebook your Disney vacation and what travel restrictions to be aware of.

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