Is Florida In for a W?

I see Governor DeSantis say all is under control, as the Florida economy remains largely open. Economic activity as of mid-June did recover. But Covid-19 surges suggest a retrenchment in the future; the extent of this will depend on how much the epidemic progresses, and what the governor’s tolerance for fatalities/day is.

First, the recovery in employment.

Figure 1: Nonfarm payroll employment in US (blue), in Florida (brown), in logs, normalized 2020M02=0. Source: BLS.

However, toward the end of the month, even in the absence of government restrictions, behavior was moving toward less activity.

Source: Wells Fargo Global Mobility Report, July 15. Applies to google data through 10th, apple data trhough 15th.

The data are not seasonally adjusted, so one has to be careful in interpretation. However, there seems to be some reduction in economic activity, as indicated by initial unemployment insurance claims.

Source: Wells Fargo, “Florida Payrolls Continue to Recover in June,” July 17, 2020.

Wells Fargo comments:

There is also some early evidence that the recent improvement in the labor market may be beginning to stall out. For the week ending July 11, the advance estimate of initial jobless claims doubled to almost 130,000, the highest mark since late May. The jump in claims could be the result of persistent processing bottlenecks and delayed reporting from the long Fourth of July holiday weekend. The reversal, however, coincides with many bars and nightclubs shutting down, which was likely to push claims higher anyway. Payroll growth will likely remain in positive territory in coming months, but the pace of improvement will almost certainly slow. While the resurgence of COVID-19 has led to some new restrictions, there are still plenty of other industries re-opening and that should help sustain Florida’s nascent recovery.

So it seems to me the evolution of activity seems to depend on the Governor’s reaction function. Will he implement measures sooner, slowing down the recovery in employment (so we get a Nike “swoosh”), or will he wait until fatalities/day reach some very high threshold, which then provokes a complete lockdown, and/or marked increase in risk-averse behavior?

For context, here is a graph of seven day moving average of fatalities per million inhabitants, on a log scale.

Source: FT, Coronavirus tracker, accessed 7/18/2020. Last observation is for 7/16.

Apparently, the Governor’s threshold is above 3.6 fatalities/million per day (101.3 per day).

The current projection from IHME is that fatalities per day will reach 131 by end-July (point estimate). The IHME projection is in the lower half of projections tabulated by FiveThirtyEight.

25 thoughts on “Is Florida In for a W?

  1. 2slugbaits

    The daily increase in Florida hospitalizations is on the rise as well. Between 21 March thru 15 June the daily increase in hospitalizations average 141.4. In the one month from 16 June thru 15 July the daily increase in hospitalizations averaged 245.4. And over the most recent nine days covering 7 July thru 15 July that number has risen to 367.4. Florida is closing in on 20,000 total hospitalizations. So much for containing healthcare costs.

  2. pgl

    Senate Republicans wants funding for testing to be $25 billion which strikes me as too little. But Donald Trump wants this funding to be zero:

    “The Trump administration is seeking to block billions of dollars for states to conduct testing and contact tracing in the upcoming coronavirus relief bill, The Washington Post reported Saturday. The administration is also trying to block billions of dollars that GOP senators want to provide for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and billions more for the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic at home and abroad, sources told The Post.”

    After all testing shows how utterly incompetent this White House has been.

  3. Moses Herzog

    This could be Oklahoma City and Tulsa in the not very distant future, if Okies don’t change their behavior here VERY soon.

    In the last video, the woman who wanted to try on shoes was asked to put on a mask, she threw two shoe boxes at the service woman’s head and left the store. She was a sharp one–she left her billfold/coinpurse at the store and they gave her ID to the police and she was arrested in short order. These MAGA folks are a very bright lot.

    1. Baffling

      One thing trump taught me is that there are far more ignorant and bigoted people in our country than i had assumed prior to nov 2016. I was apparently blind to the magnitude of the problem back then. It is a saddening state of affairs we find ourselves in today.

      1. pgl

        It does help that many of these ignorant and bigoted people can easily be identified as they are wearing MAGA hats in lieu of a mask.

  4. pgl

    A comparison of deaths across nations shows that the US is far ahead of everyone else in absolute terms. But yea – we are a big nation.

    To date only 0.0433% of our population has died. But is the lowest in the world as liars like Trump and Bruce Hall suggest? Take the disaster case of Italy with its 35 thousand deaths. Its population is 60 million so yea this is – 0.0583% so we are slightly better off than a disaster case at least for now. Then again South Korea has had only 300 deaths in a nation with 51 million people. That is 0.0006%. Most nations have a much lower death to population ratio than we do even if their percentage may be higher than that of South Korea.

    You can do the arithmetic of any of these nations but please do not trust a word that Bruce Hall spews out as he lies almost as much as Trump does.

  5. Alan Goldhammer

    I am interested in what the impact is on state sales tax revenues. I believe FL relies on this revenue stream as they don’t have a state income tax.

      1. noneconomist

        At risk of stating the normal obvious, I would add: that 13.3% rate in CA is levied on taxable income above $1 Million (for joint filers) and about $1.2 Million for single filers.
        A more accurate gauge? Joint filers with a TAXABLE income of $100,000 would owe $3,838 in state income tax (3.838%). A single filer with the same income would owe $6,466 (6.466%).
        The median CA family income in 2019 was around $71K.

  6. pgl

    Trump v Chris Wallace on cognitive tests:

    ‘President Trump accused “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace of misrepresenting the difficulty of a cognitive test that he recently took, claiming: “The first two questions are easy, but I bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. They get very hard.”

    Why it matters: Trump has accused his opponent Joe Biden of being mentally incompetent and unable to serve as president because of his alleged cognitive decline. As Wallace pointed out, a Fox News poll found 47% of respondents believe Biden has the mental soundness to serve effectively, compared to 43% who believe the same of Trump.’

    OK the why it matters needs to be noted early. But let’s roll the tape on the interview itself:

    TRUMP: “Let’s take a test right now. Let’s go down. Joe and I will take a test. Let him take the same test that I took.”
    WALLACE: “Incidentally, I took the test too when I heard that you passed it. It’s not – well it’s not the hardest test. They have a picture and it says “what’s that” and it’s an elephant.”
    TRUMP: “No, no, no. … You see, that’s all misrepresentation.”
    WALLACE: “Well, that’s what it was on the web.”
    TRUMP: “It’s all misrepresentation. Because, yes, the first few questions are easy, but I’ll bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. I’ll bet you couldn’t, they get very hard, the last five questions.”
    WALLACE: “Well, one of them was count back from 100 by seven.”
    TRUMP: “Let me tell you … you couldn’t answer — you couldn’t answer many of the questions.”
    WALLACE: “Ok, what’s the question?”
    TRUMP: “I’ll get you the test, I’d like to give it. But I guarantee you that Joe Biden could not answer those questions.”

    Counting back from 100 by 7 is hard for Trump? Lord – he is a babbling idiot!

    1. Barkley Rosser


      You missed the stunner that Wallace said “ninety-tree” after Trump said he could not answer those questions and Wallace had said one was about counting backwards from 100 by seven. There is the real killer.

  7. baffling

    i have friends who live in florida. they are heading north for the rest of the summer. midwest and then new england. they feel it is safer than staying in florida for the time being. granted, they normally head north in the summer, but were not planning to do so this year once the virus popped up. but the current conditions in florida changed their mind.

  8. macroduck

    The economic consequences of the rise in cases may be compounded by poor policy. Of the two transfers to households in the last stimulus round, the supplement to weekly jobless benefits went to households which were most likely to spend the money, while the $1200 checks went to households without regard to need. Republicans are saying, out loud in front of god and everybody, that they think the jobless benefit gives workers too much choice about returning to work, so they’d rather give the less effective checks that go to the employed and unemployed alike.

    I haven’t heard much from House Democrats in response, maybe because I haven’t been paying all that much attention to daily political headlines. They need to push Republicans toward maintaining the supplement to jobless benefits.

    In case a bit of logic would help they could try this. A $15 minimum hourly wage is a stated Democratic legislative aim. Republicans say that a jobless benefit that pays more than part-time minimum wage allows workers the choice not to risk illness in the workplace. If the minimum wage were $15, a $600 add-on to jobless benefits would not result in jobless benefits paying more than hourly wages. Under stated Democratic policy, the accusation that jobless benefits pay more than work would not be true, overturning Republican objections. Democrats have no reason to be shy about backing an emergency benefit which is consistent with their own stated policies.

    1. Moses Herzog

      Pelosi is busy eating ice cream. Schumer wants to make sure his reading glasses make him look like he’s stuck inside of a Norman Rockwell painting. While we sit around, watching white celebrities try to pretend they actually care about “BLM”, the policies that actually destroy people’s lives get lost in the weeds. Who cares about people who can’t pay their rent or feed their children?? “Karen” shoved “Lakiesha” while “Lakiesha” was reaching for her hemorrhoid cream in the Wal Mart pharmacy, and the video has gone viral people. Live internet commentary on Facebook says LaKiesha is winning because her motorized wheelchair is stronger than Karen’s, giving “Karen” the edge in this entertaining match. Meanwhile Nyeshia shoved Billy Bob Bocephus’s red MAGA hat off at Walgreens, and now BIlly Bob threw talcum powder at Nyeshia’s head exclaiming “I hope you get ovarian cancer from it!!!!”. That photo of the powder exploding around her face now has 1.5 million web hits on IG. This is the most exciting day EVER

      I’m glad we adult Americans have this entertainment, as it’s boring thinking of children at home, with no food in their stomachs. So boring…..

      BTW, Wal Mart and Walgreen’s have both made public statements saying they cannot be held liable for any injuries because they had no culpability in the average southerner’s IQ being in the 20–34 range. So we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief now. I was almost worried about America for a couple seconds.

      1. not_really

        Pelosi is busy eating ice cream.

        If the trolls talking about Pelosi’s Jenni’s ice cream habit actually tasted Jenni’s ice cream, I am pretty sure the cognitive dissonance/mental gymnastics would take a few days to sort out. (“It’s soooo good!” “hurt the libruls!”) It’s the closest thing to Berthilion in the U.S. in terms of taste experience and worth every penny.

    2. Dr. Dysmalist

      As I understand the situation, neither people who voluntarily quit nor those who were fired for cause may collect unemployment compensation. Furthermore, recipients must be actively searching for work, i.e., placing applications, and any that refuse a valid (full-time) job offer forfeit their benefits. I realize that rules likely vary from state to state.

      If my understanding is correct, then Republicans are blowing smoke up our backsides (actually, that’s a safe initial assumption in all cases). In addition, this doesn’t even account for the fact that the hypothesized disincentive effect is moot when you want people to stay away from their workplace during a pandemic if it’s a prime venue for superspreading. Republicans’ duplicity needs to be exposed more.

      1. spencer

        During the C-19 shutdown people who were laid-off because of the C-19 only have to keep in touch with their employer to claim unemployment benefits.they do not have to show that they were actively seeking work.

      1. Moses Herzog

        Interesting trade statistic for our outhouse economist.

        BMW sales have risen 17% in China, while over the same period lowering 40% in America. Can you say “MAGA!!!!” ??

        Keep this in mind when doing your 3rd quarter analysis. I don’t care what you say Willie, as an “outhouse economist”, I know deep in your heart, you TOTO-lly love these jokes: Completely and TOTO-lly love them:

        Willie, you can’t blow water or smoke up my A–

  9. Moses Herzog

    Another interesting little data point, Wards Auto forecast a 27% drop in “light vehicle” sales for the month of June, compared to last year. Now I assume the official numbers don’t come out for awhile, but I would think that’s a pretty important number when you’re talking about ripple effects through the economy,

    Volkswagen is losing “critical mass” and has now cut a deal to work together on manufacturing with Ford. This will sound like the talk of a dinosaur, but when I was a kid that would have been unthinkable. Especially to my Dad, who owned a Volkswagen Jetta, and post 1979 (maybe earlier) wouldn’t have walked onto an American car dealership if you’d paid him.

    1. Ulenspiegel

      “Volkswagen is losing “critical mass” and has now cut a deal to work together on manufacturing with Ford.”

      That is a nonsensical explanantion. The VW group has mass, it is the globally the largest car producer, and in contrast to competitors on track with EVs.

      The VW EV platform is very attractive and a possibility for Ford not to lose even more….

    2. 2slugbaits

      Moses Herzog My understanding is that Ford and VW are targeting different consumers. VW is primarily about cars. Ford (along with GM) is ceding the passenger car market to Japan and Europe and is focusing on the light truck and SUV market.

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