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Initial Economic Damage From the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States Is More Widespread Across Ages and Geographies Than Initial Mortality Impacts

Journal Article
PNAS

Abstract

The economic and mortality impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been widely discussed, but there is limited evidence on their relationship across demographic and geographic groups. We use publicly available monthly data from January 2011 through April 2020 on all-cause death counts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and employment from the Current Population Survey to estimate excess all-cause mortality and employment displacement in April 2020 in the United States. We report results nationally and separately by state and by age group. Nationally, excess all-cause mortality was 2.4 per 10,000 individuals (about 30% higher than reported COVID deaths in April) and employment displacement was 9.9 per 100 individuals. Across age groups 25 y and older, excess mortality was negatively correlated with economic damage; excess mortality was largest among the oldest (individuals 85 y and over: 39.0 per 10,000), while employment displacement was largest among the youngest (individuals 25 to 44 y: 11.6 per 100 individuals). Across states, employment displacement was positively correlated with excess mortality (correlation = 0.29). However, mortality was highly concentrated geographically, with the top two states (New York and New Jersey) each experiencing over 10 excess deaths per 10,000 and accounting for about half of national excess mortality. By contrast, employment displacement was more geographically spread, with the states with the largest point estimates (Nevada and Michigan) each experiencing over 16 percentage points employment displacement but accounting for only 7% of the national displacement. These results suggest that policy responses may differentially affect generations and geographies.

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