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During Covid-19’s First Year, Americans Poured Out of Some States, and Into Others

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During 2020 — the opening year of Covid-19 (or coronavirus-19) — United Van Lines helped around 80,000 American families move from one state to another, and here is the list showing how many were moving into each state, and how many were leaving each state, as ranked according to the percentage who were moving in there:

79,387 Total Shipments (1 January 2020 to 21 December 2020)

Inbound Shipments, Outbound Shipments, Inbound %

1. Idaho: 758 in, 323 out, 70% inbound (30% outbound)

2. South Carolina: 2054 in, 1154 out, 64% inbound 

3. Oregon: 1389 in, 833 out, 63% 

4. South Dakota: 213 in, 129 out, 62%

5. Arizona: 2852 in, 1781 out, 62%

6. North Carolina: 4039 in, 2669 out, 60%

7. Tennessee: 2202 in, 1465 out, 60%

8. Alabama: 1190 in, 802 out, 60%

9. Florida: 7335 in, 4981 out, 60%

10. Arkansas: 543 in, 385 out, 59%

11. Wyoming: 193, in, 140 out, 58%

12. West Virginia: 185 in, 135 out, 58%

13. Delaware: 304 in, 222 out, 58%

14. Maine: 445 in, 354 out, 56%

15. Rhode Island: 331 in, 265 out, 56%

16. District of Columbia: 487 in, 390 out, 56%

17. Utah: 878 in, 720 out, 55%

18. Washington: 4162 in, 3475 out, 54%

19. Texas: 7098 in, 6045 out, 54%

20. New Mexico: 757 in, 659 out, 53%

21. Kentucky: 955 in, 866 out, 52%

22. Nevada: 1025 in, 932 out, 52%

23. Iowa: 518 in, 476 out, 52%

24. New Hampshire: 311 in, 289 out, 52%

25. Montana: 530 in, 505 out, 51%

26. Georgia: 2995 in, 2876 out, 51%

27. Colorado: 2923 in, 2879 out, 50%

28. Wisconsin: 1092 in, 1093 out, 50%

29. Michigan: 1404 in, 1413 out, 50%

30. Oklahoma: 659 in, 678 out, 49%

31. Minnesota: 1106 in, 1159 out, 49%

32. Missouri: 1368 in, 1438 out, 49%

33. Nebraska: 487 in, 516 out, 49%

34. Mississippi: 499 in, 538 out, 48%

35. Louisiana: 811 in, 902 out, 47%

36. Virginia: 3536 in, 4008 out, 47%

37. Indiana: 854 in, 968 out, 47%

38. Pennsylvania: 2072 in, 2362 out, 47%

39. Maryland: 1333 in, 1632 out, 45%

40. Ohio: 1923 in, 2453 out, 44%

41. Massachusetts: 1455 in, 1900 out, 43%

42. North Dakota: 176 in, 230 out, 43%

43. Kansas: 773 in, 1092 out, 41%

44. California: 6888 in, 9776 out, 41%

45. Connecticut: 682 in,1867 out, 37%

46. Illinois: 1942 in, 3840 out, 34%

47. New York: 1960 in, 3953 out, 33%

48. New Jersey: 1074in, 2451 out, 30%

Vermont was eliminated from the overall results because there were so few shipments too-or-from Vermont. And, when I also asked the company about the absence of Alaska and of Hawaii, they told me that there’s “No Hawaii or Alaska as they are not considered domestic moves because of they way household goods are shipped.” Consequently, only 48 states, plus DC, were included in their report.

Two factors are generally used in order to rate how safe a locale is against a resident’s becoming struck by the Covid-19 disease — the disease-rate per million inhabitants, and the death-rate per million inhabitants — however, since the two ranking systems tend to produce remarkably similar rankings (with the death-rates merely being a lagging indicator, months behind the disease-rates), we shall use here be using only the disease-rates.

Below is presented each of these states’ rank in the lowness of the percentage of its population who have become diagnosed as being sick from Covid-19 (and each given state’s rate of that sickness, to-date, per million inhabitants); so, the lower the numbers are here, the safer its residents have been against this epidemic (and you can see that the disease-rates vary enormously from one state to another):

1. Idaho: #43 (80,190)

2. South Carolina: #24 (63,719)

3. Oregon: #4 (28,085)

4. South Dakota: #50 (114,254)

5. Arizona: #36 (77,963)

6. North Carolina: #13 (54,862)

7. Tennessee: #48 (90,443)

8. Alabama: #34 (77,418)

9. Florida: #26 (64,817)

10. Arkansas: #40 (79,160)

11. Wyoming: #39 (78,736)

12. West Virginia: #10 (51,983)

13. Delaware: #19 (62,746)

14. Maine: #3 (19,763)

15. Rhode Island: #46 (88,593)

16. District of Columbia: #7 (42,743)

17. Utah: #47 (90,129)

18. Washington: #5 (34,129)

19. Texas: #23 (63,364)

20. New Mexico: #28 (70,256)

21. Kentucky: #21 (62,860)

22. Nevada: #33 (76,443)

23. Iowa: #49 (91,061)

24. New Hampshire: #6 (34,807)

25. Montana: #37 (78,012)

26. Georgia: #27 (66,509)

27. Colorado: #17 (59,637)

28. Wisconsin: #44 (84,388)

29. Michigan: #12 (54,736)

30. Oklahoma: #35 (77,905)

31. Minnesota: #31 (75,406)

32. Missouri: #30 (70,428)

33. Nebraska: #45 (87,668)

34. Mississippi: #32 (75,750)

35. Louisiana: #29 (70,265)

36. Virginia: #8 (43,572)

37. Indiana: #41 (79,184)

38. Pennsylvania: #11 (53,103)

39. Maryland: #9 (47,928)

40. Ohio: #22 (62,879)

41. Massachusetts: #16 (56,956)

42. North Dakota: #51 (122,686)

43. Kansas: #42 (80,088)

44. California: #20 (62,835)

45. Connecticut: #14 (55,246)

46. Illinois: #38 (78,262)

47. New York: #15 (55,522)

48. New Jersey: #18 (62,023)

Vermont was #1 (12,882)

Hawaii was #2 (15,657)

Alaska was #25 (64,256)

So: If a state’s effectiveness at protecting its occupants from this epidemic is increasing that state’s attractiveness as a place to live, then one would expect to find that, for example, the top ten scorers in the first list, by inbound percentage, would have lower infection-rates per million, and the bottom ten would have higher infection-rates per million; but the reverse is true: the top ten on inbound percentage have Covid-19 disease-rates of 74,094 per million, whereas the bottom ten have Covid-19 disease-rates of 68,442 per million. Furthermore, the top-scoring state on its having the lowest Covid-19 disease-rate, which is Vermont, has virtually nobody moving into the state, and virtually nobody leaving the state. However, that state, though it was not ranked inbound-versus-outbound, actually should have been ranked; and the United Van Lines press release, on January 4th, which was headlined “United Van Lines’ National Migration Study Reveals Where And Why Americans Moved In 2020”, noted, only in passing, in a footnote, that, “*Although Vermont experienced the highest percentage of inbound moves overall, United Van Lines moved fewer than 250 families in and out of the state. The inbound and outbound rankings in the 2020 study only reflect states with 250 moves or more.” (They meant that in Vermont, the total of both inbound and outbound was below 250, and that, among those few, Vermont’s inbound ratio was even higher than #1 Idaho’s 70%, so that fewer than 75 of those families were moving out of the state.) So: actually, the #1 state as regards protecting its inhabitants from Covid-19 happens to be, also, the state that has actually the highest inbound/outbound ratio, even higher than does Idaho. Apparently, Vermont is an exception to the general rule that Americans are finding the riskier states to be more attractive to move to. This might indicate that if only Americans had been informed, for example, that South Dakota has the second-highest Covid-19 disease-rate in the country (exceeded only by North Dakota — which has the entire world’s highest Covid-19 disease rate), then South Dakota would not be the state that has the nation’s fourth-highest inbound/outbound ratio (actually, the 5th-highest, if Vermont had been included).

Consequently, though Americans don’t generally seem to be attracted to states that have performed well on this, but — to the contrary — appear, on balance, to be attracted to states that have performed poorly on it (they’re generally leaving the safer states, in order to relocate into the more dangerous states), Vermont is a remarkable exception, but one that only few Americans even know about.

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010

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Wendy Sherman’s China visit takes a terrible for the US turn

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Photo: Miller Center/ flickr

US Deputy Secretary of State, Wendy Sherman, had high hopes for the meeting in China. At first, the Chinese side did not agree to hold the meeting at all. The reaction had obvious reasons: Antony Blinken’s fiasco in Alaska left the Chinese disrespected and visibly irritated. This is not why they travelled all the way.

So then the State Department had the idea of sending Wendy Sherman instead. The US government actually needs China more than China needs the US. Sherman was in China to actually prepare the ground for Biden and a meeting between the two presidents, expecting a red carpet roll for Biden as if it’s still the 2000s — the time when it didn’t matter how the US behaved. Things did not go as expected.

Instead of red carpet talk, Sherman heard Dua Lipa’s “I got new rules”. 

That’s right — the Chinese side outlined three bottom lines warning the US to respect its system, development and sovereignty and territorial integrity. In other words, China wants to be left alone.

The bottom lines were not phrased as red lines. This was not a military conflict warning. This was China’s message that if any future dialogue was to take place, China needs to be left alone. China accused the US of creating an “imaginary enemy”. I have written about it before — the US is looking for a new Cold War but it doesn’t know how to start and the problem is that the other side actually holds all the cards

That’s why the US relies on good old militarism with an expansion into the Indo-Pacific, while aligning everyone against China but expecting the red carpet and wanting all else in the financial and economic domains to stay the same. The problem is that the US can no longer sell this because there are no buyers. Europeans also don’t want to play along.

The headlines on the meeting in the US press are less flattering than usual. If the US is serious about China policy it has to be prepared to listen to much more of that in the future. And perhaps to, yes, sit down and be humble.

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Why Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer

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When Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed up on the scene as White House Press Secretary, the reaction was that of relief. Finally — someone civil, normal, friendly. Jen Psaki’s entry this year was something similar. People were ready for someone well-spoken, well-mannered, even friendly as a much welcome change from the string of liars, brutes or simply disoriented people that the Trump Administration seemed to be lining up the press and communications team with on a rolling basis. After all, if the face of the White House couldn’t keep it together for at least five minutes in public, what did that say about the overall state of the White House behind the scenes?

But Psaki’s style is not what the American media and public perceive it to be. Her style is almost undetectable to the general American public to the point that it could look friendly and honest to the untrained eye or ear. Diplomatic or international organization circles are perhaps better suited to catch what’s behind the general mannerism. Jen Psaki is a well-masked Sean Spicer, but a Sean Spicer nevertheless. I actually think she will do much better than him in Dancing With The Stars. No, in fact, she will be fabulous at Dancing With The Stars once she gets replaced as White House Press Secretary.

So let’s take a closer look. I think what remains undetected by the general American media is veiled aggression and can easily pass as friendliness. Psaki recently asked a reporter who was inquiring about the Covid statistics at the White House why the reporter needed that information because Psaki simply didn’t have that. Behind the brisk tone was another undertone: the White House can’t be questioned, we are off limits. But it is not and that’s the point. 

Earlier, right at the beginning in January, Psaki initially gave a pass to a member of her team when the Politico stunner reporter story broke out. The reporter was questioning conflict of interest matters, while the White House “stud” was convinced it was because he just didn’t chose her, cursing her and threatening her. Psaki sent him on holidays. Nothing to see here folks, move along.

Psaki has a level of aggression that’s above average, yet she comes across as one of the most measured and reasonable White House Press Secretaries of the decade. And that’s under pressure. But being able to mask that level of deflection is actually not good for the media because the media wants answers. Style shouldn’t (excuse the pun) trump answers. And being able to get away smoothly with it doesn’t actually serve the public well. Like that time she just walked away like it’s not a big deal. It’s the style of “as long as I say thank you or excuse me politely anything goes”. But it doesn’t. And the American public will need answers to some questions very soon. Psaki won’t be able to deliver that and it would be a shame to give her a pass just because of style.

I think it’s time that we start seeing Psaki as a veiled Sean Spicer. And that Dancing with the Stars show — I hope that will still run despite Covid.

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As Refugees Flee Central America, the Mexican Public Sours On Accepting Them

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Authors: Isabel Eliassen, Alianna Casas, Timothy S. Rich*

In recent years, individuals from Central America’s Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras) have been forced out of their home countries by extreme poverty and gang violence. While initial expectations were that the Lopez Obrador administration would be more welcoming to migrants, policies have slowly mirrored those of his predecessor, and do not seem to have deterred refugees. COVID-19 led to a decrease in refugees arriving in Mexico, and many shelters in Mexico closed or have limited capacity due to social distancing restrictions. Now that the COVID-19 situation has changed, arrivals could increase again to the levels seen in late 2018 or 2019, with overcrowded refugee centers lacking in medical care as potential grounds for serious COVID-19 outbreaks.

Mexico increasingly shares a similar view as the US on this migration issue, seeking ways to detain or deport migrants rather than supporting or protecting them. For instance, Mexico’s National Immigration Institute has been conducting raids on freight trains to find and detain migrants. Public opinion likely shapes these policies. In the US, support for allowing migrants into the country appeared to increase slightly from 2018 to 2019, but no significant majority emerges. Meanwhile, Mexican public opinion increasingly exhibits anti-immigrant sentiments, declining considerably since 2018, with a 2019 Washington Post poll showing that 55% supported deporting Central Americans rather than providing temporary residence and a 2019 El Financiero poll finding 63% supportive of closing to border to curb migration.

New Data Shows the Mexican Public Unwelcoming

To gauge Mexican public opinion on refugees, we conducted an original web survey June 24-26 via Qualtrics, using quota sampling. We asked 625 respondents to evaluate the statement “Mexico should accept refugees fleeing from Central America” on a five-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. For visual clarity, we combined disagree and agree categories in the figure below.

Overall, a plurality (43.84%) opposed accepting refugees, with less than a third (30.08%) supportive. Broken down by party affiliation, we see similar results, with the largest opposition from the main conservative party PAN (52.90%) and lowest in the ruling party MORENA (41.58%). Broken down by gender, we find women slightly more supportive compared to men (32.60% vs. 27.04%), consistent with findings elsewhere and perhaps acknowledgment that women and children historically comprise a disproportionate amount of refugees. Regression analysis again finds PAN supporters to be less supportive than other respondents, although this distinction declines once controlling for gender, age, education and income, of which only age corresponded with a statistically significant decline in support. It is common for older individuals to oppose immigration due to generational changes in attitude, so this finding is not unexpected.

We also asked the question “On a 1-10 scale, with 1 being very negative and 10 very positive, how do you feel about the following countries?” Among countries listed were the sources of the Central American refugees, the three Northern Triangle countries. All three received similar average scores (Guatemala: 4.33, Honduras: 4.05, El Salvador: 4.01), higher than Venezuela (3.25), but lower than the two other countries rated (US: 7.71, China: 7.26) Yet, even after controlling for general views of the Central American countries, we find the public generally unsupportive of accepting refugees.

How Should Mexico Address the Refugee Crisis?

Towards the end of the Obama administration, aid and other efforts directed at resolving the push factors for migration in Central America, including decreasing violence and limiting corruption, appeared to have some success at reducing migration north. President Trump’s policies largely did not improve the situation, and President Biden has begun to reverse those policies and re-implement measures successful under Obama.

As discussed in a meeting between the Lopez Obrador administration and US Vice President Kamala Harris, Mexico could adopt similar aid policies, and decreasing the flow of migrants may make the Mexican public respond more positively to accepting migrants. Lopez Obrador committed to increased economic cooperation with Central America days into his term, with pledges of aid as well, but these efforts remain underdeveloped. Threats to cut aid expedite deportations only risks worsening the refugee crisis, while doing little to improve public opinion.

Increasingly, the number of family units from Guatemala and Honduras seeking asylum in Mexico, or the United States, represents a mass exodus from Central America’s Northern Triangle to flee insecurity. Combating issues such as extreme poverty and violence in Central American countries producing the mass exodus of refugees could alleviate the impact of the refugee crisis on Mexico. By alleviating the impact of the refugee crisis, refugees seeking asylum will be able to navigate immigration processes easier thus decreasing tension surrounding the influx of refugees.

Likewise, identifying the public’s security and economic concerns surrounding refugees and crafting a response should reduce opposition. A spokesperson for Vice President Harris stated that border enforcement was on the agenda during meetings with the Lopez Obrador administration, but the Mexican foreign minister reportedly stated that border security was not to be addressed at the meeting. Other than deporting migrants at a higher rate than the US, Mexico also signed an agreement with the US in June pledging money to improve opportunities for work in the Northern Triangle. Nonetheless, questions about whether this agreement will bring meaningful change remain pertinent in the light of a worsening crisis.

Our survey research shows little public interest in accepting refugees. Public sentiment is unlikely to change unless the Lopez Obrador administration finds ways to both build sympathy for the plights of refugees and address public concerns about a refugee crisis with no perceived end in sight. For example, research in the US finds public support for refugees is often higher when the emphasis is on women and children, and the Lopez Obrador administration could attempt to frame the crisis as helping specifically these groups who historically comprise most refugees. Likewise, coordinating efforts with the US and other countries may help portray to the public that the burden of refugee resettlement is being equitably shared rather than disproportionately placed on Mexico.

Facing a complex situation affecting multiple governments requires coordinated efforts and considerable resources to reach a long-term solution. Until then, the Central American refugee crisis will continue and public backlash in Mexico likely increase.

Isabel Eliassen is a 2021 Honors graduate of Western Kentucky University. She triple majored in International Affairs, Chinese, and Linguistics.

Alianna Casas is an Honors Undergraduate Researcher at Western Kentucky University, majoring in Business Economics, Political Science, and a participant in the Joint Undergraduate/Master’s Program in Applied Economics.

Timothy S. Rich is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Western Kentucky University and Director of the International Public Opinion Lab (IPOL). His research focuses on public opinion and electoral politics.

Funding for this survey was provided by the Mahurin Honors College at Western Kentucky University.

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