KBTX Interviews Dennis Jansen on Pandemic Misery Index

Oct 01, 2020
Summary: KBTX interviewed Dennis Jansen, PERC’s Director, on the Pandemic Misery Index (PMI), a report that compares the effectiveness of each state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The PMI combines the average unemployment rate starting in March and the total number of deaths due to the coronavirus per 10,000 people in each state, with the highest scoring states faring the worst.
“It’s a simple way of illustrating the way the different states have dealt with the pandemic in terms of both unemployment, the economic health, and deaths, in terms of public health,” said Jansen.
New York and New Jersey have the highest PMI scores. “Clearly, New York and New Jersey are outliers. They have large unemployment rates, and they have large death rates. The other three biggest states -Texas, Florida and California – have all fared quite a bit better than New York and New Jersey. And that’s despite my impression that Texas And Florida have been beaten up a bit in popular discourse. In fact, Texas has the lowest PMI of the four largest states because it has the lowest unemployment rate [of the four largest states], and it has a relatively low death rate, although it is slightly higher than in California.”
“Some states have done very well according to the PMI. They are usually rather sparsely populated states west of the Mississippi and not on the Pacific coast.” Utah and Nebraska hold the lowest PMI scores. Texas ranked firmly in the middle of the pack.
Within Texas, those metro areas with the highest average unemployment rates tended to also have the highest PMI scores. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission had the highest average unemployment rate, which contributed to it holding the highest PMI value among other Texas MSAs at 21.6. The College Station-Bryan MSA held the third lowest PMI score.
Jansen said “College Station-Bryan, for example, does quite well in comparison to [other] MSAs in Texas, partly because they have a low unemployment rate, and partly because we have a somewhat low death rate.”
See the full interview on KBTX here.

Read more about the Pandemic Misery Index here.