The US states with the most international visitors will be hit hard by coronavirus fallout

The coronavirus is hitting workers in Nevada hard.
The coronavirus is hitting workers in Nevada hard.
Image: AP/John Loche
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International and domestic travel to US tourist destinations has ground to a halt. The US has implemented bans on travelers who were recently in China or Europe, places that account for the majority of all US travel to the US. Airlines are also slashing US domestic flights because of the declining demand for travel within the country. This decline in tourists and business travelers will hurt the entire US economy, but some places are being hit harder than others.

Today, the US Department of Labor released data on the number of unemployment insurance claims for each state from March 8th to March 14th (pdf). The data show that workers in US states that get an unusually large number of international visitors, like Hawaii and Nevada, are suffering more, on average, than states that get fewer. Official estimates for domestic travel to US states are not available, but international visitors are highly correlated with overall tax revenue from all travelers, according to data from the US Travel Association. So, for the most part, states with large numbers of international travelers will also take a domestic hit.

The Department of Labor reported that the number of initial unemployment claims jumped by 50,000 from the previous week. The states with the largest percentage increases in unemployments claims included Nevada (65% jump), Washington (55%), Rhode Island (37%) and Massachusetts (36%). All of these states get more international visitors than is typical.

The relationship between high international visitors and high unemployment doesn’t hold true for all states though. Insurance claims for New York, the state with the third most international visitors per capita, are yet to substantially increase. But after this week’s increased restrictions on gatherings in the city, that looks likely to change.

The chart below shows the relationship between total annual visitors per capita in 2018 versus the increase in claims from March 1-7 to March 8-14. The data shows thats while the average state saw a 16% increase in claims, the top ten states in international visitors increased by an average of 22%.