First and foremost: The pandemic shouldn’t be over, and many of those indicators will proceed to alter in the months and, sure, years to return. This is a primary try at tallying the pandemic’s impacts at the state degree; it’s not the ultimate phrase.

Second, many of those measures are preliminary. The financial knowledge, particularly, is continually being up to date and retrospectively revised by the authorities companies that gather it. States that seem to fare effectively or poorly now might look totally different down the highway.

Third, a few of the indicators, significantly for schooling, are partial. Again, we can count on extra and higher knowledge to turn into accessible in the future. While imperfect, this preliminary knowledge already reveals rising patterns that we felt necessary to incorporate.

We divided the knowledge into 4 buckets: well being, economic system, schooling and social well-being, and — usually — in contrast the metrics to a pre-pandemic baseline.

Once we had the 4 coverage space scores, we confronted the choice of whether or not to common these scores and in that case, how to weight these classes. We determined that weighting any class greater than the others — deciding, for example, that vaccination charges ought to rely greater than math testing scores — is a political choice, not an editorial one. There are all the time trade-offs in public coverage, and the choice on how to prioritize the relative worth of well being, financial, schooling and social outcomes are precisely the choices that politicians are elected to make. To keep as impartial as doable we’ve weighed these classes equally in our common rating, however we encourage readers to carefully evaluate the particular person classes and the knowledge behind them in reaching their very own conclusions.

Importantly, we imagine in exhibiting and sharing our work. Readers can download the full data set here. Below, we have a extra detailed clarification of our methodology and present hyperlinks to the underlying knowledge.

This scorecard must be thought of a instrument in an evolving coverage panorama that reveals the place states are struggling and the place they’re doing higher. We hope that the patterns which are rising on this knowledge can be useful to public officers in evaluating the trade-offs they’re nonetheless going through as we grapple with this ongoing public well being disaster.

Maura Reynolds, editor, POLITICO’s Recovery Lab and Sean McMinn, knowledge and graphics editor, POLITICO


For every of the 4 classes — well being, economic system, schooling and social well-being — we calculated a rating between zero and 100. Those scores symbolize the common of every of the metrics, outlined beneath, that go into these classes.

For every of the metrics in the 4 classes, we in contrast a state’s efficiency to different states utilizing a z-score, which is a generally used statistical measurement to find out how far off of “average” a given knowledge level is. That z-score can then be transformed to a percentile from 0-100 by utilizing a cumulative distribution function.

Those percentiles have been averaged for every metric throughout a class to calculate the class’s rating.

We averaged these 4 class scores with one another to provide you with a median rating for every state. If a state was lacking knowledge for any metric, that metric was not included in the common.


To rating states’ efficiency in well being care, we used 4 metrics:

– Deaths per capita
– Hospitalizations per capita
– Covid exams accomplished, in comparison with hospital admissions
– Vaccine doses administered per capita

Deaths per capita

For deaths, we calculated the total number of Covid-19 deaths per capita beginning March 26, 2020 and as of Nov. 26. We additionally checked to see if the age distribution of states made a considerable distinction in the rankings utilizing the CDC’s relative risk breakdown, and it didn’t.

Hospitalizations per capita

For hospitalizations, we compiled the complete variety of Covid-19-confirmed hospital admissions (grownup and pediatric) per capita beginning March 26, 2020 and as of Nov. 28.

Covid exams accomplished, in comparison with hospital admissions

For testing, we summed the total number of positive, negative and inconclusive tests performed per capita as of Nov. 25. We then divided that quantity by the state’s hospitalizations per capita to calculate a ratio of how many exams have been performed per hospitalization. This weighting compensated for the undeniable fact that states with surges would possible see a rise in testing, and it benefited states that have been testing preventatively — even when there weren’t surges.

For instance, if at any time limit State A had a surge and State B had a lull in circumstances, you’d count on there to be extra exams happening in State A. If State B was doing the identical variety of exams as State A, State B would seem higher in our rankings as a result of their public well being operation was being extra proactive.

Vaccine doses administered per capita

We calculated the total number of vaccines administered in every state, together with booster doses, per capita as of Nov. 24.


To rating state financial efficiency we used three metrics. For every, we in contrast seasonally adjusted post-pandemic 2020 and 2021 numbers to these of 2019.

– GDP by state
– Job creation
– Unemployment fee


Beginning with the second quarter of 2020, we took the state GDP for each quarter and in contrast it to the identical quarter in 2019 to provide you with a p.c change. We then averaged these p.c modifications.

Job creation

We calculated the common month-to-month change in nonfarm employee payrolls in comparison with the identical month in 2019, beginning with March 2020.


We calculated the common month-to-month change in the state unemployment rate in comparison with the identical month in 2019, beginning with March 2020.

Social well-being

Measuring social well-being is inherently troublesome however we appeared for nationwide metrics that have been accessible with state breakdowns. We discovered three that met our standards:

– Food insecurity
– Ability to afford family bills
– Violent crime

We in contrast these metrics in opposition to the earliest accessible baseline after March 2020, and calculated the change every state skilled as the pandemic progressed. As a consequence, our calculations don’t examine present ranges of every metric, corresponding to meals insecurity, simply how a lot they improved or worsened after the baseline. Therefore a state with a drop-off in violent crime will rating larger than a state with a rise in violent crime, even when the degree of violent crime in the first state is larger.

Food insecurity

For meals insecurity, we used knowledge from the U.S. Census Bureau’s weekly Household Pulse Survey, which started in April 2020. We used the first survey as the baseline. We took the common weekly p.c of people that reported that they often or typically didn’t have sufficient to eat, then divided that fee by the p.c of people that had struggled with meals insecurity throughout the first week the survey was performed.

Ability to afford family bills

In mid-August 2020, or week 13 of the Household Pulse survey, the Census Bureau started asking respondents how their skill to pay for traditional family bills had been affected by the pandemic. We took the common weekly p.c of those who mentioned it had been considerably or very troublesome to afford family bills, then divided that by the preliminary fee reported in week 13.

Violent crime

For violent crimes, we calculated the p.c change in complete violent crimes from 2019 to 2020, utilizing data from the FBI. (Data for 2021 has not but been launched.) The violent crimes in the FBI knowledge embody murder, rape, theft, aggravated assault, housebreaking, larceny-theft and motorcar theft. This knowledge displays the hierarchy rule, which requires solely the most critical offense to be counted in an company’s crime totals when a number of offenses are dedicated in an incident.

We selected to deal with violent crime as a result of, as POLITICO’s Recovery Lab previously reported, property crime truly decreased throughout the pandemic.


To rating states’ efficiency in schooling, we used three metrics:

– Change in studying achievement
– Change in math achievement
– Change in enrollment

When the pandemic broke out in spring 2020, the federal authorities postponed the exams it administers yearly to trace pupil efficiency. Those exams, often called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, will resume in spring 2022 however the outcomes won’t be accessible till subsequent summer time at the earliest. (Some states performed their very own statewide testing throughout the pandemic, however these outcomes will not be comparable throughout states.)

In the absence of federal check scores, there may be presently no academic evaluation knowledge accessible that displays the efficiency of all college students and all states. But since pandemic studying loss is predicted to have very long-term results on the economic system and society, we didn’t wish to exclude schooling from the scorecard.

As a consequence, we determined to incorporate the next-best academic knowledge accessible — assessments by personal corporations — and create as massive a dataset as doable with their assist. We labored with three personal corporations — Curriculum Associates, Renaissance and NWEA — that contract with states and districts round the nation to assist schooling officers measure pupil efficiency. Each of the testing suppliers crunched their knowledge right into a format that could possibly be aggregated. Each had their very own threshold for what degree of information they have been in a position to share primarily based on agreements with their purchasers:

Curriculum Associates: State-aggregated knowledge with a minimal of 10 districts and 1,000 college students examined in a given grade/topic. Only college students who examined at school have been included.
NWEA: State-aggregated knowledge solely from states the place a number of districts have been included and roughly 20 p.c of pre-Ok by eighth grade public college college students in a state have been examined.
Renaissance: State-aggregated knowledge with a minimal of 10 colleges and 2,500 college students examined. Only college students who examined at school have been included.

The aggregated dataset that we created is the finest schooling evaluation knowledge presently accessible for evaluating pupil achievement throughout states. It contains testing outcomes from 48 states and represents exams taken by over four million college students between grades one and eight in studying and math. (One testing firm, Curriculum Associates, offered knowledge for under third graders.)

The knowledge captures a pattern of scholars in every state, but it surely’s not a randomized pattern, and it has necessary limitations that readers ought to bear in mind when evaluating the outcomes. For occasion, whereas the corporations excluded small pattern sizes from the knowledge they offered, we don’t know to what extent the samples in the mixed dataset are consultant of the populations of their states when it comes to demographics, ethnic range, earnings, whether or not the college students attend an city, suburban or rural college, or different components. We additionally don’t know whether or not the college students took the exams at dwelling or at school; college students taking the exams at dwelling tended to attain larger. One firm offered knowledge just for college students who took the check in school, versus at dwelling. The different two reported {that a} majority of exams have been taken in school, or in districts the place greater than 50 p.c of colleges weren’t bodily closed.

We didn’t account for variations in demographic teams between exams, partly as a result of testing suppliers didn’t present detailed district- or school-level breakdowns in an effort to protect pupil privateness. There have been, basically, variations between testing corporations: Renaissance, for instance, reported 47 p.c of their test-takers who indicated a race have been white, whereas NWEA reported 58 p.c have been white. The knowledge may be sampled from personal or spiritual colleges at larger or decrease charges than a state’s precise enrollments.

In brief, the schooling knowledge in the scorecard is the finest accessible proper now, but it surely’s imperfect, preliminary and partial, and readers ought to hold these limitations in thoughts. Recognizing this, we will not be publishing particular testing scores for every state, however are as an alternative assigning a rating primarily based on a grouping detailed decrease in the methodology.

Maryland and Wyoming didn’t have personal testing knowledge that met the threshold standards, so they don’t have a rating in the schooling class. Those states’ common scores have been calculated utilizing solely the well being, social well-being and financial classes.

Reading and math achievement

These two measures have been calculated individually and collectively comprised two-thirds of the schooling rating. For every testing supplier that had knowledge for a given state, we took the median percentile of spring 2021 in comparison with a pre-pandemic nationwide norm and transformed it to a normal-curve equal utilizing the following method:

( 21.06 * percent-point-function of (PERCENTILE_RANKING/100) ) + 50

In order to acquire a novel baseline for every state, we took a pre-pandemic testing interval for every state (Fall 2019 for NWEA and Renaissance and spring 2019 for Curriculum Associates) and calculated a normal-curve equal for that additionally. We then calculated the change between the state-specific spring 2021 knowledge and the state-specific pre-pandemic knowledge.

If there was just one testing firm that offered knowledge for a given state, the change from pre-pandemic to post-pandemic was used to attain the state’s studying and math scores. If there have been a number of testing corporations that offered knowledge for a given state, every of their p.c modifications have been calculated individually and then averaged collectively, weighted by the variety of college students in every testing firm’s spring 2021 pattern.

For states the place the weighted common p.c change was higher than -1 p.c, we assigned them into a bunch labeled “little to no learning loss” and awarded 100 factors in the studying or math class. The remaining states have been divided into two equally sized teams. The states in the center group have been labeled “some learning loss” and have been awarded 67 factors, and the states in the backside group — which confirmed the most studying loss — earned 33 factors and acquired a “most learning loss” label.

Change in enrollment

We calculated the p.c change between 2020-2021 tutorial yr enrollment to 2019-2020 enrollment utilizing public college knowledge available for each state from the National Center for Education Statistics. Because of information limitations at the time this evaluation was achieved, pre-Ok enrollment knowledge was excluded. Private colleges have been additionally not included.

Illinois didn’t present enrollment knowledge for the 2020-2021 tutorial yr, so solely its testing scores have been used to calculate its schooling rating.

Annette Choi contributed to this technique.

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