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U.S. counties with worst pandemic job losses voted for Biden over Trump

November 16, 2020, 10:32 PM UTC

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As the dust continues to settle from Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election, a more vivid picture of the electoral forces that carried Biden to the White House is coming into focus. Unsurprisingly, that picture is showing the major role that the coronavirus pandemic—and specifically, its devastating impact on the U.S. economy—played in driving Americans to vote for a change.

According to an analysis by the New York Times, the U.S. counties that saw the heaviest job losses at the height of the pandemic-induced economic lockdown this past spring tended to vote in Biden’s favor instead of Trump’s. What’s more, many of the hardest-hit “red” counties that voted for Trump experienced far swifter economic recoveries over the course of 2020—in the form of lower unemployment rates—than their “blue” counterparts who went Biden’s way.

The data indicate that while the U.S. economy has recovered relatively briskly from a downturn that saw the heaviest job losses since the Great Depression, that recovery has not occurred at equal rates across the U.S. The Times noted research indicating that Democratic-leaning areas, which tend to be more urban and have more service sector jobs, were especially impacted by the lockdown. And in heavily “red” states such as Alabama and Mississippi, the counties that went “blue” have higher concentrations of Black residents—a demographic also more prone to the pandemic’s economic consequences.

In more ways than one, the 2020 election has reflected the myriad divisions within American society, and economics have proved no exception. A recent study by the Brookings Institution found that the nearly 2,500 counties that voted in Trump’s favor represent less than 30% of the U.S.’s gross domestic product. By contrast, the roughly 500 far more densely populated counties won by Biden account for around 70% of the U.S. economy alone.