Missouri, Delta Variant and Economic Activity (So Far)

Three alarming graphs regarding the Covid spread in Missouri (from 7/19 WaPo), and some economic indicators:

Source: WaPo, 7/19/2021.

Source: WaPo, 7/19/2021.

Source: WaPo, 7/19/2021.

Here is the CDC ensemble forecasts for Missouri as of 7/19:

Source: CDC, 7/19/2021.

Will these trends show up impacting economic activity? There are (at least) two offsetting effects. Even in the absence of a lockdown and other public health measures, heightened risk if perceived will induce reduced high-contact activity (restaurants, etc.). On the other hand, Missouri is exactly in this situation partly because people’s (or political leadership) risk assessment is off. (It could be value-of-life is low, too – hard to assess with the data at hand).

So far, economic activity impacts haven’t shown up clearly in conventional indicators (although in June, Missouri was already declining according to the preliminary estimate).

Figure 1: Coincident indexes for Missouri (bold blue), Arkansas (red), Florida (tan), Kansas (brown), Louisiana (green), South Dakota (violet), United States (bold black), all in logs, normalized to 2021M03=0. Source: Philadelphia Fed, author’s calculations.

They haven’t even shown up clearly in the weekly indicator developed by Baumeister et al., which extends only to July 10.

The most recent observation on Missouri is today’s unemployment initial insurance claims report, for the week ending 7/17.

Figure 2: Missouri initial unemployment claims, for week ending, n.s.a. (blue). Source: Missouri DoL, US DoL.

Since the data is not seasonally adjusted, and extremely noisy, one would not want to make too much of the jump (although it’s twice as big as the standard deviation of weekly changes, 5591 > 2514).

My worries about the delta variant’s macro impact, from a month ago.


44 thoughts on “Missouri, Delta Variant and Economic Activity (So Far)

    1. macroduck

      In “this number”? Menzie has offered representations of lots of numbers.

      Just in case you meant that the Covid infection rate or hospitalization rate or some such number for Missouri is distorted because of July 4th, well, other states also had July 4 on their calendars and most aren’t doing as badly as Missouri on any measure of Covid performance.

      Look here for just one bit of evidence that infetions are rising faster in some regions of the U.S. than others (you know who you are) even though July 4 came and went in every region.

      Quick question: Are you really a “Bott”?

      1. pgl

        At this one admits to being a bot upfront!

        Trump has gone even more Orwellian as he has declared “disinformation” to be a beautiful word. So no more accusing the trolls and the bots here of being liars as they are only spreading disinformation, which is of course beautiful!

      2. Gregory Bott

        The government was shutdown during the Monday after the 4th so they had unprocessed claims. It looks like total claims are around the 380-385 number, which makes sense as lockdowns ended in the spring and thus has leveled off. PUA workers have declined 1.5 million since the BLS’s June sampling period. They now will have to be either put back on payroll figures or counted as unemployed. Now remember, this is just not wage laborers, but self-employed, contractors ete. The BLS has a bit of mess on their hands. From misleading inflation numbers to seasonal adjustment issues due to lockdowns, benchmark revisions in the future will be massive. Probably down and up in the millions. It may not be until 2023-24 that BLS data gets more consistent again.

        I live in Ohio and they simply can’t find workers to work at manufacturers in the area. If you have any experience they are giving them full time jobs asap at Honda. You can get into full time temp job with no qualifications for 17.10, up to 18.10 hourly after a month. 3000 dollar bonus after 3 months with a raise to 19.10. That is seriously in western ohio, a good wage, future potential money………just to show up for 3 months. Yet, they are struggling to fill these positions. I think retirements may be something for this site to look into. They exploded and are part of the issues employers aren’t talking about. Not only do you have the backloads from the lockdowns, but retirements spiked. So workers have employers over a barrel. My son just got a full time job at Verizon selling phones for 17 dollars a hour base and full time benefits after 3 months…….he is a recovering drug addict at 34 and never has worked a full time job in his life. I mean, this is a great time to be a worker in many respects. The rentier class is getting played by worrying about inflation. The backlogs will fill in. But imo, it will take 2-3 years. The workers are partying and setting their own timetables.

        1. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Gregory Bott: Why don’t wages adjust upward over time, then? I’m a believer in wage stickiness (i.e., I believe wages are sticky), but upward rigidity is a little harder to believe than downward.

        2. Menzie Chinn Post author

          Gregory Bott: I can see how office closure on 7/5 impacts claims data for week ending 7/10; I don’t see how it affects data for the week ending 7/17. Appreciate any clarification.

        3. baffling

          “he is a recovering drug addict at 34 and never has worked a full time job in his life.”
          spent plenty of time in ohio. this is quite common in the rural and small town parts of the state. in ohio, you either graduate from college and move away for a better life, or you stay in your hometown and become an alcoholic or drug addict. very depressing. glad your son is recovering. ohio has wasted a couple of generations of their young over the years. drugs and opioids in particular hit the state hard.

          1. Moses Herzog

            Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn have written a lot about these issues and even had a PBS documentary special on it. Maybe not specific to Ohio, but similar stories to the ones you are addressing.

            I think Mr. Bott’s son might find new strength from reading about or watching these stories, if he doesn’t misperceive it as some kind of lecturing. I think both the book and the documentary are called “Tightrope” and can probably be found in most major city public libraries or college town public libraries.

  1. macroduck

    Some of those graphs, the ones which, as scaled, appear to show sudden exponential growth, look a lot like charts from the UK. The sharp rise in Covid cases in the UK began before the end of distancing rules. This similarity is odd, given that the vaccination rate in Missouri is much lower than in the UK and given that Missouri’s governor lifted all distancing restrictions back in May vs right around now for the UK. Maybe the apparent similarity is a matter of scale in presenting the data.

    Pessimist that I am, I think troubles in the UK mean that we are all at risk of becoming Missouri in the autumn. The UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization is of similar mind: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/22/uk-scientists-back-covid-boosters-as-study-finds-post-jab-falls-in-antibodies

    The development of Covid vaccines was a wonder (outside of China, which has embarrassed itself pretty substantially). The effort at deploying the vaccines in the U.S has been less impressive, but not shabby on average. That is not enough. Regular re-vaccination, improved vaccines and normalization of vaccine use are needed for the long haul. The Black Death and the Spanish Flu offer two very different examples of the persistence of a pandemic and we don’t yet know which is the better example for Covid-19. Prudence requires that we assume Covid may remain a threat indefinitely.

    When one considers the consumption of vitamin tablets which are largely ineffective, dietary supplements which are largely ineffective, and home-defense weapons which are the least effective of all, it is mind-boggling to think that large parts of the population reject Covid vaccination. Rational agents are south of the Mason-Dixon? Not so many.

    I have only known one person who did not routinely brush his teeth. Everyone else I have ever known well enough to know has routinely brushed their teeth, despite mostly not understanding the mechanism by which tooth brushing contributes to dental hygiene. I know far fewer sunbathers now than when I was a kid, because the risk of excessive exposure to the sun is accepted, without most of us understanding the mechanism by which ultraviolet light causes damage. Vaccination was like that for most of us until the Covid President came along. If Trump cultists won’t help in the effort to suppress Covid, the rest of us simply have to take up the slack. Distancing when distancing is needed, routine re-vaccination and better vaccines for the rest of us. Trumpists can be lucky free-riding parasites in some cases, sick or dead in some cases – the rest of us don’t have much choice about that.

    1. Walter

      I would not blame the “effort at deploying”. I think the option -and encouragement – were there. There problem has been the now-fashionable willful and proud ignorance. “I’m stupid and that’s just as good as being smart”.
      1 in 6 US Olympic athletes, for instance, have headed to Japan un-vaccinated. There they will mingle with persons from all over the world from every imaginable situation, from populations carrying multiple variants.
      It is almost impossible to imagine the level of denial and mystical entitlement that has taken hold in this country.

      1. baffling

        “1 in 6 US Olympic athletes”
        i found the number of olympians not vaccinated surprising. guess i gave them too much mental credit along with their physical prowess. it has been sad to see quite a number banned from the olympics because of a covid test. the ones who got the vaccine and still tested positive should note their unvaccinated colleagues most likely cost them to miss the most important moment in their lives. selfish is not a strong enough word here.

        1. pgl

          I heard some of them did not take the vaccine because it might cost them a day of training. WTF? Rest days are a part of the training regime.

          1. baffling

            after the second shot, i was out for a day. it was rough, and would have affected my training (mostly 12 oz curls these days). but the impact would have been nothing compared to even a mild infection of the virus, which would be almost a certainty. this was a really poor risk reward analysis for a number of those athletes.

  2. ltr


    July 22, 2021

    Over 1.49 bln doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered in China

    BEIJING — Over 1.49 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in China as of Wednesday, the National Health Commission announced Thursday.

    [ Chinese coronavirus vaccine yearly production capacity is now 5 billion doses. Along with over 1.49 billion doses of Chinese vaccines administered domestically, another 570 million doses have been distributed internationally. A number of countries are now producing Chinese vaccines from delivered raw materials. ]

    1. macroduck

      It’s a shame China’s Covid vaccines work so poorly. If only China had the technological capacity to produce truly effective vaccines, the Chinese people could be so much better off. As it is, Thailand and Indonesia have turned to AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines because the initial effort to employ Chinese vaccines produced such poor results.

      Given China’s commercial importance, I’m sure a deal could be struck to give Chinese citizens access to non-Chinese vaccines. That would be a very responsible thing for China’s leaders to do, as it would be a boon to the Chinese people, and also to the rest of the world. Protected only by comparatively ineffective Chinese vaccines, China could become a breeding ground for new and perhaps even more dangerous variants of the Covid virus.

      Importing technologically superior vaccines would also free up resources to allow China to do things it is better at, to persue a comparative advantage. Rhings like threatening Taiwan, bullying Hong Kong into submission and building dams which then have to be torn down.

      1. rjs

        re: It’s a shame China’s Covid vaccines work so poorly.

        clarify what you mean; China has just had 267 new cases over the past week; with our vaccines, the US has had 321,460

        1. baffling

          the vaccine is not really working. it is mask mandates and social distancing that has removed the virus from the population. the vaccines will not be very effective during an outbreak. so china is faced with mask mandates and social distancing for many years, unless it can improve its vaccine efficacy. this should be pretty obvious to anybody serious about this discussion, rjs.

        2. Moses Herzog

          @ rjs
          You’ve critiqued different stats on this blog before and are now buying China Government statistics??? WOW, that’s a new one from you. Mr. Anal Retentive Stats Guy now buys the China Bureaucrat count. If this is your version of even-handed cynicism I don’t care to hear you talk shit about gov stats ever again.

  3. pgl

    It seems this is the week for the likes of Sean Hannity and certain Republican politicians (including Florida’s governor) to tell people to get the vaccine. Hey fellows WTF have you been for the past 8 months?

    1. joseph

      Well, that didn’t last long. Today Hannity walks it all back. Apparently too much blowback from his devoted audience.

      Hannity: “The media says suddenly Sean Hannity and other Fox hosts are urging their viewers to get COVID-19 vaccines. Suddenly? Well, first of all, I’m not urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, because I’m not a doctor. That is not what I said.”

      And then he goes on to a rant about snake oil: “Now, we do have therapeutics. I mean, they could be saying, “Wow, studies show that people like Hannity were right on hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin and therapeutics like Regeneron,” but we’re never going to hear that either.”

      Well, at least Regeneron has shown some promise but is no silver bullet. He’s still killing his constituency for the sake of those sweet, sweet ratings.

      1. baffling

        it is cheaper to take a shot of vaccine than to spend a week in the hospital icu while taking regeneron or one of the monoclonal cocktails. since the government is footing the bill on covid treatment, you would think the conservatives out there would prefer people use the $5 vaccine over the $50,000 hospital therapeutic. they keep throwing out the idea of hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, not sure why? may as well add Clorox bleach and super duper internal ultraviolet rays as well.

        1. pgl

          Didn’t the chief medical officer for Fox and Friends tell everyone that wearing a MAGA hat prevented COVID19 infections?

  4. baffling

    “Some of those graphs, the ones which, as scaled, appear to show sudden exponential growth, look a lot like charts from the UK. ”
    once you see the virus infect with an exponential curve, you know it is simply too late. that means it is embedded in the local community and will simply have to run its course, especially since there will be no lockdowns going forward. since we know the new variant is more contagious, this exponential growth will happen quicker than before. there will definitely be parts of the usa that look like the uk as a result. masks can help us keep from becoming exponential, but will not cure us once we are there. since we are not masking in the schools this fall, i expect there to be bigger trouble with kids and infection over the next few months. the new variant will probably spread like wildfire in that environment. too bad we could not get the kids vaccinated before school started. that should have been a priority. while i appreciate the fda’s approach to safety, i think more could and should be done to expedite the process. making a vaccine available after the virus has infected the nations schoolchildren is not productive.

  5. SecondLook

    Apparently, the most significant factor in how the public responds to pandemics is a personal experience – as in either contracting oneself, or knowing someone who has.
    A century ago, most often in smaller states like Missouri, local papers would regularly public death notices for all local victims of the Spanish Flu (their cause of deaths clearly identified). As one can imagine, the impact of reading who died seemed to have an effect on attitudes and behavior. For various legal reasons, that can’t be done by modern papers, or other news media. Now, it’s quite possible that the denial stage is still too powerful for too many, but still…

  6. macroduck

    By the way, the Delta variant now accounts for about 83% of new U.S. Covid infections, while Lambda accounts for only about 1%. However, Lambda is newer to thw U.S. and may prove just as highly transmissible as Delta. https://www.gisaid.org/hcov19-variants/

    So that should be interesting.

    1. baffling

      the cdc seems to believe the delta variant is about as infectious as can be for a respiratory disease. those who did not get the vaccine will almost certainly get this variant. gonna be another difficult fall, with a lot of younger people suffering. i just wish we could hurry up the vaccine for younger children, and offer protection to everybody in the schools this fall.

      1. 2slugbaits

        My understanding is that the R-naught for the wild COVID is between 2 and 3 (call it 2.5) while the R-naught for the delta variant is estimated to be between 6 and 8 (call it 7). Gonna need a lot of folks with some kind of immunity to reach “herd immunity” with an R-naught of 7.

        1. Baffling

          We should wait for our resident modeling expert dick stryker before we proclaim the r0 is around 6 or 7. He was running some sophisticated arithmetic a year ago which contradicted the infectiousness of the virus.

  7. joseph

    “You can get into full time temp job with no qualifications for 17.10, up to 18.10 hourly after a month. 3000 dollar bonus after 3 months with a raise to 19.10. That is seriously in western ohio, a good wage,”

    The BLS median wage is $25 an hour for full time workers. These “seriously good wages” offered in Ohio are 30% below the median. It’s worth noting that Ohio Honda is a non-union plant.

    1. baffling

      $19 an hour does not even reach $40k for the year in salary. hard to raise a family on those wages. it may not be poverty level, but it is not far away either. considering many people view $15 as what the minimum wage should be, the ohio honda plant is not paying very well.

  8. ltr

    Importantly enough, as the data show, Chinese coronavirus vaccines have worked remarkably well since the beginning of administration in June 2020. There are now 5 Chinese vaccines that have been domestically approved and are in use. Since June 2020, there have been remarkably few coronavirus cases detected in China, with an overwhelming portion being imported cases. There have been only 2 coronavirus related deaths in China since June 2020, with neither person having been vaccinated.

    Vaccine administration for children from 7 to 17, has been approved domestically.

    The World Health Organization has approved 2 Chinese vaccines, while many countries have in turn approved a Chinese vaccine. A number of countries are producing Chinese vaccines from distributed raw materials. Leaders of at least 30 countries have received Chinese vaccines.

    China as of July 22, 2021 ranks 134 from the top in terms of total number of coronavirus cases since January 2020.

    1. Olaf Kunert

      “Chinese coronavirus vaccines have worked remarkably well since the beginning of administration in June 2020.”

      Sorry, that is BS. In Indonesia, where hospital staff was fully vaccinated with Chinese vaccines, there are high infection rates among this staff and many have died. Even for a large country like Indonesia ten dead nurses and docs are a lot.The Chinese vaccines are not good, and your inept propaganda does not change this fact.

      1. baffling

        this is the propaganda that ltr routinely pushes on this site. it is not even misinformation, but false information.

    2. Barkley Rosser


      There are now several nations either outright stopping taking Chinese vaccines or seriously thinking of dong so. Among the former are Malaysia and Thailand. UAE is among the latter, of which there are several others. This particular post by you is more disingenuous than usual.

  9. James

    Menzie – please forgive me for sharing a bit of Wisconsin economic activity news that is related to this post. For my day job – I attend and exhibit at a lot of small conferences and meetings around the state. I believe these round-tire events (within a car trip) generate some significant economic activity. I am attending my first in-person event at the newly constructed Brookfield Conference Center next week. Talking to event organizer – he said this is their first in-person meeting in 155 days. (a lot of these groups did Zoom meetings) Also – the folks at Wisconsin Dells resorts/centers in Wisconsin Dells tell me their rooms are filling up fast for a meeting I am attending there in October (For non-Wisconsin residents – Wisconsin Dells is mostly dependent on water park resorts and conferences – Mr Herzog – there is an old school supper club there – that does a typical Wisconsin Old Fashioned – ) . Finally – in regards to Supply Chain – when I was ordering some trinkets for exhibit table (think branded pens, puzzles, phone cleaners, etc.) the folks there told me they are swamped with orders and they are having difficulty filling orders because of suppliers being backed up. If I had been forward- thinking, I should have ordered the stress reliever trinkets six months ago. By the way – I am well below my budget for year – I am sure to get back closer to normal in last quarter. Also – I think in 6 to eight months things will be getting back to more normal activity. Thanks

    1. Barkley Rosser


      I think you meant to put this comment on another thread.

      That said, I took family to the Dells recently and the place was hopping. And Ishnala was plenty busy too, the best Wisconsin supper club there is, with its Old Fashioneds justly famous.

  10. joseph

    “It’s a shame China’s Covid vaccines work so poorly. If only China had the technological capacity to produce truly effective vaccines, the Chinese people could be so much better off. As it is, Thailand and Indonesia have turned to AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines because the initial effort to employ Chinese vaccines produced such poor results.”

    From that commie-symp rag the Bloomberg News: “China Sinovac Shot Seen Highly Effective in Real World Study”.
    “Based on observations on about 120,000 public health workers in Jakarta who were vaccinated from January to March, 28 days after the second dose, Sinovac vaccine prevents 94% of COVID-19 symptoms, 96% in preventing hospitalization, and 98% in preventing deaths.”

    Note that no vaccine is 100% effective. There have been over 6,000 hospitalizations and deaths in U.S. of vaccinated people.

    So far Indonesia has received 126.5 million doses from Sinovac, 14.8 million from AstraZeneca and 4 million from Moderna. Which vaccine is better? The one you can have or the one you can’t have because of all sorts of corporate barriers.

  11. joseph

    And I realize that some may be annoyed by ltr’s China posts, but when you take glee in putting out derogatory information about Chinese vaccines that might discourage people from getting vaccinated, you are no different than Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson. Apparently you fail to see the irony.

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