The Terrible Ten

By Charles Sullivan

As of September 18, 2020, these are the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country: NE; UT; ID; SD; VT; ND; AL; GA; MT and OK. The 10 states with the highest unemployment rates, all in excess of 10%, are: PA; NJ; IL; MA; NM; CA; HI; NY; RI and NV.

See a pattern? Of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates, only Montana has a Democrat governor. Of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates, only one, Massachusetts, has a Republican governor. Additionally, of the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates, all have Democrat control of both houses of the state legislature except for Pennsylvania, with Republican control of both houses.

I live in deep blue New Mexico, one of the terrible ten with unemployment rates in excess of ten percent. NM has had single-party Dem rule at the state level for most of the last 90 years. In the state legislature, the last time Republicans held a majority in both houses at the same time was 1930. In the 90 years since 1931, Dems have held a majority in both houses of the legislature for 80 of those years. In the appellate court system, the last time Republicans held a majority on the NM Supreme Court was in the 1920s. Today, four of the five justices on the court are Dems. Our Court of Appeals was formed in 1966 and has never had a Republican majority. Currently, nine of the ten judges on that court are Dems. In the executive branch, over the past ninety years it has been 58 to 32 in favor of the Dems. But at no time when we have had a Republican governor has that governor also held control of both houses of the state legislature at the same time. Therefore, his power has been greatly restricted.

As reported periodically by Wallet Hub, NM has had some of the toughest Wuhan virus lockdowns in the western United States. The result has been that the private sector economy has been decimated. Job losses have been greater than during the financial meltdown of 2007 – 2008. To the best of my knowledge, only job losses suffered during the Great Depression were greater, on a percentage basis.

Although there are daily reports in the media of the hard times for small businesses in NM, especially restaurants, I cannot recall a single report about any layoffs in the public sector. I personally have not heard of a single federal, state, or local employee in NM who has been laid off in the seven months since the lockdown began here in mid-March. I wanted to investigate.

As I started my research at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, it became immediately apparent that the job losses in NM are primarily limited to the private sector, and that the public sector has been largely untouched. What about the other terrible ten states? I found a similar pattern. For the year ending in August of 2020, here are the numbers:

State

year non-farm total % labor change

year leisure and hospitality total % labor change

year total government % labor change

PA

(-8.2)

(-28.2)

(-1.6)

NJ

(-9)

(-31)

(-4.7)

IL

(-7)

(-23.1)

(-4.6)

MA

(-10.9)

(-38.7)

(-5.9)

NM

(-8)

(-29)

(-3.3)

CA

(-9.1)

(-31.2)

(-4.7)

HI

(-16.1)

(-52.4)

(-.6)

NY

(-12.4)

(-41.7)

(-6.8)

RI

(-7.4)

(-21.5)

(-1.2)

NV

(-9.4)

(-15.9)

(-4.5)

average

(-9.75)

(-31.27)

(-3.79)

I included the category of hospitality and leisure to show how badly it has been savaged compared to other categories.

Note that in every state of the terrible ten, the loss of government employment has been substantially less than the overall nonfarm labor loss percentage. The average government job loss of 3.79% is just 38% (3.79/9.75) of the average for all nonfarm labor loss. In other words, it is 62% less. On a percentage basis, government losses have been 88% less than the leisure and hospitality industries. So much for sharing the pain by government. Particular scorn should be heaped on the State of Hawaii, that made the great sacrifice of reducing its government workforce by 6 tenths of one percent while its leisure and hospitality industry suffered catastrophic losses of over 50%.

Here in New Mexico, we soldier on and increasingly wonder if the state will ever return to normal. More and more of us are taking road trips to nearby states to remind us of what relative normalcy is like and to preserve our sanity. It is expected that tens of thousands will be leaving the state due to loss of jobs.

Meanwhile, our Chihuahua-like governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, continues to bark at us. When Wuhan virus infection rates go down, she gives press conferences praising herself and her policies as the principal cause. When numbers worsen, as they recently did, she gives a press conference scolding the public for disobeying her orders and blames the public for the worsening numbers.

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