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    California Is 10th Most Impacted By Pandemic-Driven Travel Restrictions

    Mike LaFirenza

    The spread of COVID-19’s Delta variant has been a significant step backward in the U.S.’s efforts to fight off the coronavirus pandemic. Cases and hospitalizations reached their highest levels since last winter and could rise again this winter, with large portions of the population still unvaccinated and fall’s cooler temperatures and indoor gatherings approaching.

    In response, many jurisdictions returned to mask requirements, capacity restrictions, and other public health measures to slow the spread of the Delta variant, and individuals are rethinking their own behaviors and preferences to avoid the variant.

    Delta’s spread has been particularly unwelcome news for segments of the economy that have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Early in summer of 2021, when vaccines were widely available, cases were on the decline, and mask requirements were lifted, sectors like travel and tourism, hospitality, and the arts were still hobbled, but a return to normal appeared to be in sight. Now, there is new uncertainty for these industries’ recovery.

    Air travel provides one example. The TSA’s daily count of airport travelers plummeted to less than 100,000 per day at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and incrementally increased over the remainder of 2020 and the beginning of 2021. By the summer of 2021, the number of air travelers was back over 2,000,000 per day but still lagged behind pre-pandemic levels. However, a recent survey by Longwoods International found that nearly two thirds of travelers are changing trip plans in light of the coronavirus, with one in six postponing a trip until at least next year.

    As consumer behavior changes in response to the continued spread of the virus, businesses and workers in travel-dependent industries will also feel the effects. The accommodation and food services and arts, entertainment and recreation sectors each saw their total employment effectively cut in half at the start of the pandemic and have been slow to recover since. Delta’s spread could continue to strain that recovery. And with the recent expiration of expanded federal unemployment benefits, those who are out of work could face even greater economic hardship.


    State economies that depend heavily on travel and tourism-related industries could also feel the effects of the uncertainty and caution around the Delta variant. Prior to COVID-19, 15% of Nevada’s GDP and 12.6% of Hawaii’s depended on the accommodation and food services industry, so a prolonged slowdown in travel would have major ramifications for them. Meanwhile, states like Tennessee and Florida that are leaders in arts, entertainment, and recreation have also been hard hit by recent surges in cases and may experience ongoing challenges in the months ahead.

    Employment levels and GDP in these sectors can identify which states have been most impacted by travel restrictions—and which may be most vulnerable to future slowdowns. To find the states most impacted by travel restrictions, researchers at CoPilot used data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis to create a composite index based on the importance of tourism-driven sectors to each state’s economy and how much those sectors contracted during the first year of the pandemic.

    Here is a summary of the data for California:

    • Impact score: 68.39
    • Change in accommodation & food services GDP: -21.0%
    • Change in arts, entertainment, & rec GDP: -37.7%
    • Accommodation & food services share of GDP: 3.4%
    • Arts, entertainment, & rec share of GDP: 1.6%
    • Accommodation & food services share of employment: 8.7%
    • Arts, entertainment, & rec share of employment: 3.3%

    For reference, here are the statistics for the entire United States:

    • Impact score: N/A
    • Change in accommodation & food services GDP: -21.3%
    • Change in arts, entertainment, & rec GDP: -35.8%
    • Accommodation & food services share of GDP: 3.6%
    • Arts, entertainment, & rec share of GDP: 1.3%
    • Accommodation & food services share of employment: 8.7%
    • Arts, entertainment, & rec share of employment: 2.8%

    For more information, a detailed methodology, and complete results, you can find the original report on CoPilot’s website:

    Mike LaFirenza writes for Lattice News Wire

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