Washington state’s harsh measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact in terms of job losses and recovery from those losses, according to a new report put out by the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO), without the hoped-for decline in hospitalizations and deaths from the virus.
As the pandemic began to hit the U.S. in early 2020, state governments – including Washington state – imposed economic restrictions such as business closures, stay-at-home orders, school closures, gathering restrictions, and capacity limits at certain establishments like restaurants. The severity of such orders varied by state.
The detailed, highly-technical 510-page study, “Assessing Each State’s Response To The Pandemic: Understanding The Impact On Employment & Work,” was released on Dec. 3. It compares two different indexes measuring the severity of government actions in responding to the pandemic: the Abridged Oxford Stringency Index (AOSI) and the Government Severity Index (GSI).
“Washington ranked #1 in the GSI but #14 in the AOSI, but more severe than either [Iowa] or [Minnesota] ,” Erik Randolph, the GCO’s director of research and author of the report, wrote in an email to The Center Square. “The results suggest that [Washington] – that had one of the strongest pre-pandemic job growth (i.e., 2.6% per the 12 months prior) could have saved more jobs. The estimated economic impact for [Washington] is 46,700 for each SD movement.”