Mississippi’s light-touch lockdown vindicated

By Tyler B. Jones
October 21, 2022

Mississippi’s economy suffered the least during the COVID-19 pandemic thanks to Governor Tate Reeves’ light-touch lockdown, according to new data released by the Center for American Experiment.

Gross Domestic Product is the total value of goods and services produced and while Mississippi’s GDP took a dip during the pandemic, the impact was less in our state than pretty much any place else in America.

The new study shows how lockdowns harmed each state's economy, but where lockdowns were less stringent and relied on individuals exercising common sense, the economic impact was less severe.

The report shows that New York, for example, which imposed an extreme lockdown at the insistence of its Governor, had a dramatic fall in economic output. In New York, the economic hit was the second highest in the United States.

While Mississippi participated in shutdowns for the first few weeks of the pandemic, many New York businesses were prohibited from opening their doors until June 2021, well into a year after the state’s initial lockdown in March 2020.

Lockdowns across the country tanked the economy in many states. But states like Mississippi, which tended to give individuals and organizations far greater autonomy to assess the risks and figure out how best to mitigate them, fared best.

In stark contrast to state leaders elsewhere, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves defended the rights of businesses to remain open and for Mississippians to work. Local governments and school boards had the opportunity to continue lockdowns if they so chose to, but Reeves said the state would not create a state-wide order. The data in this report shows what a positive impact that approach had.

In consequence, Mississippi’s GDP has bounced back rapidly. In 2021, the total value of goods and services produced in the state was $104 billion, surpassing the pre-pandemic level. The GDP for 2019 was only $101 billion.


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