In the 1970s, Economist Arthur Okun created the Misery Index to calculate how the average U.S. resident was suffering economically speaking. It was calculated by adding the unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate.
In the accompanying table, I calculate a State Misery Index by adding each state’s current Covid-19 deaths per capita to the state’s most recent percentage of job loss since one month prior to the pandemic, February 2020. In the table, lower rankings indicate higher degrees of misery in the state.
As in the March 2021 Economic Trends Misery Index, New Yorkers, once again, ranked number one in terms of the highest degree of misery, while Utah residents experienced the lowest level of misery.
In terms of employment, Hawaii experienced the greatest job misery with a loss of 13.0% of non-farm jobs, while Utah suffered the least job misery with a job shortfall of 3.0%.
In terms of Covid-19 death misery, Mississippi suffered the greatest misery with the Covid-19 death rate at 3.4 deaths per 1,000 in population, while Vermont suffered the least Covid-19 death misery at 0.6 deaths per 1,000 population.
Surprisingly, the 25 states with the greatest degree of misery had a higher full vaccination rate of 56.3%, or slightly lower than the full vaccination rate of 57.3% for the 26 least miserable states.
Estimated correlation coefficients reveal that there is a negative correlation between vaccination rates and Covid-19 death rates (i.e. higher vaccination rates, lower Covid-19 deaths), and that there is a positive correlation between vaccination rates and job losses (i.e. higher vaccination rates, higher job losses).