2019 Joblessness and THE 2020 VIRUS

Marketers use data on consumers’ past behaviors to predict and anticipate future trends.  It is a tried and true tactic. Data science helps them dive into the data to find and exploit
relationships like these:

  • Past purchase data helps marketers estimate how much more of a product that consumers are likely to buy in the future. 
  • Past consumer financial behavior data – if payments are made as agreed — leads to good credit scores because the risk of future lending will be low. 

The seeds of the future are sewn in the data of the past. 

Similarly, summaries of past state- and County-level employment data illustrate associations that anticipate today’s public health outcomes. 

Public health research by Dr. Kate Strully at SUNY published in “Demography” explains how joblessness is associated with poor health: with job loss comes loss of self-esteem, social status, income, and this can eventually lead to poorer health outcomes.  Of course, poor health may also result in job loss, and become a negative feedback loop with job loss leading to poor health and poor health leading back to job loss.

As might be expected, we find a positive association between 2019 state unemployment averages with 2020 covid death rates (per 100 residents) as the chart below shows. New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, the first covid states are excluded from the trend line because of their extraordinarily high covid death rates.

2019 State Unemployment Rates versis 2020 Covid Death Rates

It’s generally understood that high graduation rates lead to better work opportunities, and, as shown in the downward sloping trendline starting in the left of the charts below, high unemployment rates are associated low school graduation rates.

College Graduates in States and State High School Graduation Rates

So, poor education data predicts high unemployment data which, as we saw above, predicts poor public health outcomes. 

Today, data is being captured about consumer behavior in a changed world and marketers will adjust thier trends and yields to this “covid shift”.  The data will predict new targets and new markets will emerge. 

Using the evidence from past experience, public health officials will improve their plans: to improve future pandemic response and to improve community health services and health outcomes. 

And, if US states and Counties act to improve education — and break the negative feedback loop between joblessness and poor health — new data will tell the story of a population living healthier consumer lives, more equitably, in an indivisible nation.

Ref. CDC, US Census, USA Facts, Demography, The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, County Health Rankings & Roadmaps 2020 (www.countyhealthrankings.org

Shining a Light on Data