Because the 2020 election was quite contentious, It’s not too surprising that states that supported Biden would have significant differences when compared to states that supported Trump. However, one particular difference is surprising. When the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, the national unemployment rate increased from 3.5 percent to 6.7 percent at the end of 2020. The increased unemployment rate during Trump’s tenure did not uniformly affect all states. From 2020, the states that voted in favor of Biden were particularly hard-hit by unemployment. Blue states saw an average loss of jobs of about 6 percent. The states that experienced the worst increase in unemployment were California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York, and Nevada. All five of these states voted for Biden. Meanwhile, states that got off lightly tended to vote for Trump. Red states tended to see an average loss of jobs of about 2.5 percent, with some states, such as Alaska and Utah, even seeing a slight increase in unemployment.

It turns out that one reason for this stark difference in job loss might have something to do with each states’ attitude toward the pandemic. Although the states that supported Biden had the largest impact in terms of unemployment, they also had the smallest impact in terms of loss of life. While Hawaii had the highest rate of job loss at 10.2 percent, it also had the lowest death rate due to COVID-19. These differences stem from the different responses from Democratic governors compared to Republican governors. Blue states with Democratic governors tended to place stronger restrictions to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic. These actions had a great economic impact, but also saved lives. However, it is one reason for the difference in the unemployment rate between states that supported Biden versus states that supported Trump.

Another reason for the difference is the nature of the jobs that were lost during the pandemic. Some industries were harder hit; others were stable or even stronger during the pandemic. States that supported Trump tend to be more rural, whereas states that supported Biden tend to be more urban. Many jobs in rural states stem from industries such as mining and agriculture, which were less impacted by unemployment during the pandemic. Urban states tend to rely on service industries such as tourism. Because of travel restrictions and overall public sentiment, the number of tourists declined sharply during the pandemic. This would obviously greatly impact the unemployment rate. One exception to this was Florida. While much of Florida’s economy is fueled by tourism, its unemployment rate did not increase as much as its blue counterparts. This is likely due to its lax COVID-19 restrictions, which reduced the economic impact.