Delta Variant May Be Hurting The Economy Most In The Highest-Vaccinated States

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Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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The economic slowdown being driven by the Delta variant may be concentrated in the states that are most protected against it.

Restaurant visits, airline travel and face-to-face shopping has been on the decline in recent weeks as cases and deaths surged nationwide due to the highly-transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, according to The New York Times. Despite the fact that the vaccinated can generally go about their lives facing little to no risk of serious illness or death from the virus, some data suggests that those are the people who are most curtailing their economic activity in response to Delta.

“People who vaccinate themselves very early are people who are already very careful,” University of Pennsylvania economist Jesús Fernández-Villaverde told the NYT. “People who do not vaccinate themselves are less careful. So there is a multiplier effect” on the economy.

Data from restaurant reservation service OpenTable shows that the states with the biggest drop in restaurant reservations since Aug. 1 are Louisiana, New York, Washington, D.C., Washington, Oregon, Maryland and Illinois. Louisiana was affected harshly by Hurricane Ida. Each of those states, with the exception of Illinois, has a vaccination rate above the national average.

Some of those states are not experiencing the Delta wave nearly as badly as Texas. However, economic activity in the Lone Star State is holding up fairly well. “It appears the latest Covid surge has been less impactful on the economy than previous surges in Texas,” Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas senior business economist Laila Assanie told the NYT.

Survey data from the Dallas Fed shows that consumer activity did not drop as much this summer as it did during the initial wave in spring 2020 or the ensuing spike in winter 2020-2021. Nearly 70% of Texas business managers surveyed still said they are trying to hire or recall workers, not trim payrolls. (RELATED: POLL: Almost Three-Quarters Of Unvaccinated Americans Would Quit Job If It Required The Vaccine)

The data is consistent with polling that shows Democrats are more likely to still be concerned about COVID-19 than Republicans, even though those Democrats are also more likely to be vaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has only reported 2,675 breakthrough COVID-19 deaths of vaccinated Americans out of more than 176 million people who have gotten the jab.

President Joe Biden announced Thursday the Department of Labor will begin requiring vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing for all employees at businesses that employ more than 100 people.