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Opinion
Conor Sen

Why New York’s in a Depression and Texas Isn’t

The K-shaped recovery applies to geography too. 

The Oculus transportation hub and mall stands nearly deserted in lower Manhattan.

The Oculus transportation hub and mall stands nearly deserted in lower Manhattan.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images North America

In the first few months of the Covid-19 pandemic, the conventional wisdom was that economic recovery hinged on controlling the disease. For a while, that appeared to be the case, with the economies of most states feeling similar levels of pain as consumers, businesses and public officials took measures to slow the spread of the virus.

But as August state employment data show, recovery is happening faster in states whose economies are less tied to in-person services, not states that have performed better on controlling the virus. As we await the rollout of vaccines, we should expect better virus control to improve the economic fortunes of any community. But we should also expect states with economies that rely more on logistics, manufacturing and construction to outperform economies heavier on services, no matter what their public health performance is.