Research / Industry & Commerce

Policy Analysis | February 2021

State Tax Collections in the SLC Region Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Cody Allen

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the nation caused shockwaves in the first quarter of 2020,* as the pandemic – and subsequent public health and safety measures – lead to an unprecedented economic downturn. States struggled as their traditional sources of revenue saw immediate drops, and economic uncertainty precluded the accuracy of revenue projections for the months ahead. The distribution of vaccine shipments to states in December led to renewed optimism that the fiscal situation for state, federal and local governments would soon improve. However, economists have cautioned that a full economic recovery may not be seen until the end of 2022, dependent, in large measure, on the levels of continuing federal financial support.1

The National Association of State Budget Officers notes the bulk of state general fund revenue is derived from personal income and sales taxes – 44.9 and 30.1 percent, respectively.2 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, for the third quarter of 2020, 11 states in the South received their largest share of revenue from the collection of individual income taxes, with just four – Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee and Texas – reporting general sales and gross receipts as their largest tax revenue source.3

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Policy Analysis | February 2021

Unemployment in the SLC Region Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Roger Moore

Last updated: February 19, 2021

Disclaimer: On November 30, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that the U.S. Department of Labor has inaccurately reported the number of people filing for unemployment benefits during the pandemic. Due to the historic number of individuals filing for benefits since March, and states' frequent backlogs processing the claims, the traditional method of reporting unemployment has not accurately captured the number of unique individuals claiming benefits, according to the GAO report. For example, if a person files for five weeks of benefits in a given week, the Department of Labor typically counts it as five separate claimants, not one. This method of reporting normally is a reliable proxy for the number of unique individuals claiming benefits, but it cannot account for states' processing delays and claimants retroactively applying for benefits during the pandemic.

This SLC Policy Analysis will continue updating the figures as they are reported weekly by the Department of Labor. While the absolute figures may not be accurate, the trend levels remain helpful for understanding the overall employment outlook.

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Policy Analysis | December 2020

Trade in the SLC Region Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

Roger Moore

The COVID-19 pandemic upended global economic activity in the first quarter of 2020. Although the long-term impact of the pandemic remains unknown, the profound economic shocks experienced beginning in March, with widespread business closures and restrictions on movement, are expected to reverberate into 2021 and, possibly, beyond. In October, the World Trade Organization (WTO) reported that global merchandise trade declined 14.3 percent between the second quarters of 2019 and 2020, the largest quarter-on-quarter drop ever. Global trade for all of 2020, the WTO estimated, declined 9.2 percent, while global GDP decreased 4.8 percent.1

By highlighting export and import data, as reported monthly by the U.S. Census Bureau, this SLC Policy Analysis depicts how the pandemic has impacted the U.S. economy and, particularly, trade in the SLC region. The data includes export and import data for the following periods:

  1. Quarterly changes from the first quarter of 2019 through the fourth quarter of 2019;
  2. Quarterly changes from the first quarter of 2020 through the third quarter of 2020; and
  3. Year-over-year quarterly changes between 2019 and 2020.

Importantly, the monthly data provided by the Census Bureau only includes commodities. Exports and imports of services – such as travel and transportation, telecommunications, financial services and cultural activities, to name a few – are not included in the monthly data sets. Services account for a significant share of overall U.S. economic activity and have similarly been affected by the coronavirus-induced economic downturn.2

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Manly Barton


Vice Chair

Nathaniel Ledbetter


Past Chair

Jeanie Lauer


Roger Moore

Roger Moore
Senior Policy Analyst

The SLC Economic Development, Transportation & Cultural Affairs Committee examines issues related to infrastructure, transportation, economic progress and cultural strengths in the Southern region. Discussions and reports of the committee have focused on Southern state actions to bring manufacturing operations of national and foreign companies to the region, as well as the importance of ports, roads and railways for the movement of manufactured goods. The committee has a long history of studying the impact of the Panama Canal expansion and international trade with Mexico, Canada and China on Southern state economies.

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