Comparing Private-Sector Employment by State During COVID Impacts

Summary of Study

Covid-19 caused deep retrenchment in the U.S. economy with effects starting to be felt in the second half of March. Private-sector jobs are the focus because in many states, government employment suffered very little and federal jobs increased during the year. 

For the U.S., private-sector jobs fell 15.2 percent in April 2020 from the 12-month earlier level. The decline in employment from September 2019 to September 2020 was year-over-year loss of 6.8 percent. 

Read the full policy report here

Feature Charticle


  • There were 29 states posting smaller declines in private-sector employment from April-to-April. Interestingly, 21 of the 29 are right-to-work (RTW) states.
  • 21 states recorded losses greater than the national decline. Six were RTW states.
  • September-to-September provides a picture of how well states have recovered from the huge losses posted in April. The states are divided into those with declines smaller than the national year-over-year loss and those above it.
  • RTW states accounted for 21 of the 29 better-than-national-average performing states. The very best performers with losses at 4.5 percent or lower were all RTW states.
  • RTW states have fared much better on the whole under Covid than non-RTW states. RTW has long been a good proxy for how state governments view free enterprise, free markets and the importance of limited interference in markets and society in general.

Read the full policy report here