The counties where former president Donald Trump won in the 2020 election are collectively seeing stronger labor markets in the Biden economy, according to a new report from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG).
In these counties, manufacturing, energy, and agriculture sectors are a disproportionate share of their economies, and the workforce is more blue collar.
The Democrat counties, by contrast, are in key business districts and are seeing fewer jobs, partly explained by the rise of remote work. Local businesses there have also suffered. In these generally urban counties, the jobs are more likely to be white collar in nature and can be performed remotely.
According to the report: "The pandemic upended established patterns in the geography of the nation's economic growth. Many rural areas are newly thriving. Corners of the Sun Belt are booming like never before. Superstar metros have been humbled by remote work."
Employment levels have come back more strongly in Trump counties, Axios noted.
By the end of first quarter of 2022, Trump counties faced an employment shortfall of about 0.3% of its former level. Counties carried by President Joe Biden, in contrast, started the year with a continuing deficit of 1.7 million jobs, or 1.8% of total pre-pandemic employment.
"It seems that the pandemic has been a force for convergence across the U.S. economy: modestly lifting up many formerly-struggling and right-leaning areas while weighing down formerly-dominant and left-leaning ones," the EIG's Kenan Fikri writes in the report.
Roughly 25% of those in areas that Trump won in 2020 are employed in the goods sector, the report finds, compared to Biden counties, where the share is 14%.
Goods-producing businesses went on a hiring spree to keep up with the pandemic-induced demand. The services sector saw demand bounce back, but not until fear of the virus ebbed and the economy began to reopen.
Biden counties contained nearly twice as many jobs as Trump counties at the start of 2020. However, by the end of the pandemic's first year, they lost nearly four times as many jobs as Trump counties, according to the report.
The report says the country's politics remain as polarized as ever. "Voters still view the economy through a partisan lens. Shifting economic sands look unlikely to lead to shifting political ones for the time being."
Employment data was provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
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