Lousiana in the Bullseye of the COVID-19 Economic Crisis

New weekly unemployment insurance claims have come down slightly from last week's record-setting levels. Looking at the unemployment insurance data and data on confirmed COVID-19 cases, Louisiana is being severely impacted from both a health and economic perspective.

For the week ending April 4, 2020, another 6.6 million workers filed unemployment insurance (UI) claims, as economists anticipated. Last week’s claim volume results from massive backlogs in initial states hit by the coronavirus, such as California and New York, as well as the fact that the industries impacted by the economic shutdown employ large numbers of people. Further, last week’s numbers should include data for those states which instituted shelter in place orders later than other states, like Florida, Texas and Georgia.2 Additionally, last week’s claims also includes the self-employed and contract laborers, who, thanks to the CARES Act enacted on March 27, 2020, are now eligible for temporary UI benefits.

COVID-19 Infection Rates

The map below plots the COVID-19 new cases per 100,000 persons as of April 4. New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island and Idaho comprise the 10 states with the highest rates of infection, 3 of which are in the Heartland. Though Michigan has a higher total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 (14,225), Louisiana leads the Heartland with an infection rate of 197.5 cases per 100,000 for reasons described in more detail below.


Unemployment Claims Filed

The state with the highest unemployment claims last week is California, with over 925,000 claims, followed by Georgia (over 388,000 claims), Michigan (almost 385,000 claims), New York (354,000 claims) and Texas (nearly 314,000 claims). While unemployment claims in some states are related to COVID-19 outbreaks, the relationship between COVID-19 cases and unemployment insurance claims continues to deteriorate. Across the Heartland region, 2.3 million claims were filed last week, which represents 37 percent of claims filed. After Michigan and Texas, Ohio (224,000 claims), Illinois (201,000 claims) and Indiana (134,000 claims) round out the 5 highest level of new claims in the region.

Read the rest of the piece at Heartland Forward.

Relearning the lessons of 1919 in 2020

More than 100 years ago, a worldwide pandemic moved from China to the entire Western World through in-sourced low wage labor, according to the research of one historian. As the Allies fought WWI, farmers were going to war, and as Napoleon said, “An army marches on its stomach.”

The Allies desperately needed chicken and pig farmers to raise food to be canned for the troops. Some 96,000 Northern Chinese farmers and menial laborers were imported. Everywhere they went a killing flu broke out and then made its way through human contact around most of the globe killing many more people (50 million) than the war casualties of WWI. The German, Austrian and Turkish populations were particularly hard hit, and the so-called “Spanish Flu” played no small part in the end of the war. The first lesson is that borders need to be medically controlled and that closed borders are safer than open ones, especially when there are wildly varying sanitary and health conditions between nations.

The Spanish Influenza was so named because, to most people, it seemed Spain was most heavily hit by the virus. This wasn’t actually true, but because Spain was neutral, it seemed hardest hit due to the fact that its press was not being censored for the war effort. People in the nations fighting the war were not given information about the disease, how it was spread and how to avoid exposure. They would still go to munitions factories and bond rallies, remaining focused on war activities. This allowed the virus to deeply penetrate all of Europe and the United States. The second lesson is that a controlled or dishonest press is an agent of death in a pandemic.

Most of the Spanish flu victims didn’t actually die from the virus. The virus would ravage their bodies, particularly their lungs. Generally, they would recover but be terribly weakened, their lungs etched by the effects of the virus. In their weakened state, the victims acquired bacterial infections. With raw lungs and weakened immune systems, they were unable to withstand the infections.

This led to a cleanliness and anti-bacterial fetish in the Western World from 1920 until roughly 1980. By 1980, we had forgotten the WHY of this fetish and deemed it to be the silliness and unjustified paranoia of our grandparents’ generation. They had no 15-second rule on their fastidiously clean floors for very good reason. The third major lesson is that soap and other disinfectants save lives.

I had not flown on a jet from 1989 until 2016. I had not taken a bus, streetcar or train from 1990 until 2017. As a member of a national not-for-profit board, I have recently been taking public transportation to get around the country. The shabbiness and filth on jets, trains and buses I encountered was shocking.

Presumably as a cost-cutting measure, general filth has been allowed to prevail. This makes public transportation dangerous, in addition to the crowding of people into tight, poorly ventilated space. In the 1918 pandemic, it was noticed that people who used public transportation had much higher infection rates than those who walked, rode bicycles or used automobiles. The fourth lesson is the same today. Mass transit is dangerous during epidemics and pandemics.

Beginning in 1920, there was a huge move of population in the industrialized world from cramped cities to the suburbs. Again the Spanish flu played a major role in Modernist-Progressive preaching that the cramped conditions of cities made them natural breeding grounds for disease. The first train subway founded in Connecticut in the 1880s gave support to this thinking.

Los Angeles County, famous for being an “automotive metropolis,” was actually laid out in the 1890s as suburbs. The thought process was that even if fathers of families had to risk their lives by working in the city, wives and children would be safe from contagion and also able to exercise and grow some family food. It was seen in the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak that, indeed, tightly packed dense cities had almost double the infection rates as suburbs and rural areas. The fifth lesson in 1918 was clear, as it should be clear today: density kills.

For two decades now, Globalists pretending to be Progressives and falsely flying under our banner have been attempting to remake the world into a global community of open borders, reduced standards of cleanliness and maintenance, lower wages, mass transit and dense urban cores. They have refused the lessons of history that 1918 and all other world pandemics and local health crises have taught us.

At this very moment, as a pandemic rages, the Globalists still demand and promote bail-out packages with open borders, dense and killing mass transit systems, anti-suburban planning initiatives and, insanely enough, more dense cities. Their religion of oligarch profit will not consider reality, instead wanting to enforce an obstinate rigidity against it.

The future is ours. We must seize it for the reality history shows what real sustainability is.

Steven Lamb is a 4th generation Native Californian. He is a past City Council Person and Land Use Commissioner. Mr. Lamb has had a Organic Architecture design practice for thirty five years. Mr. Lamb presently is a board member of Progressives for Immigration Reform and a co founder of the Center for Progressive Urban Politics.

Urban Life and Pandemics

Pandemics have always been the enemy of dense, urban life. Cities, where people live in close quarters and mix with people from other places, are ideal breeding grounds for contagions. So far, by contrast, there have been comparatively few coronavirus infections in the vast middle of the United States, particularly in the rural reaches. When the bubonic plague devastated Europe, as the historian William McNeill noted, the cosmopolitan centers of Renaissance Italy fared far worse than the reaches of Poland or other parts of Central Europe. Those grandees who could, like some contemporary wealthy New Yorkers, fled to their country homes, where the chance of infection was slighter.

Even before covid-19 hit, large urban centers like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago were losing population; more than 90 percent of all population growth since 2010 has taken place in the suburbs or exurbs. Millennials, as a new study from Heartland Forward demonstrates, based on an analysis of census numbers, increasingly head to cities and towns in the middle of the country and away from the supposed “magnets” of New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

The current pestilence is likely to accelerate those shifts, which bear major ramifications for how Americans get to work. Transit ridership was doing poorly before the crisis, declining throughout the country, while telecommuting and driving alone continue to grow. With the specter of contagion, city-dwellers are told to avoid crowded subways, removing a critical element that makes ultradense cities work. In New York, subway traffic is down precipitously, as many commuters now work at home instead. Toronto is eliminating much of its downtown train service. The Washington Metro is also cutting back.

Just as progressives and environmentalists hoped the era of automotive dominance and suburban sprawl was coming to end, a globalized world that spreads pandemics quickly will push workers back into their cars and out to the hinterlands.

This piece first appeared in the The Washington Post.

Joel Kotkin @joelkotkin, a presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University, is executive director of the Urban Reform Institute. His forthcoming book is “The Coming of Neo-Feudalism: A Warning to the Global Middle Class.”

Where to Obtain Coronavirus Data

Various internet sites are now providing up to date information on the coronavirus at the international level. Two sources are described below:

Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering. This site provides a world map, that shows cumulative confirmed cases and active cases (choices available on the map). It is possible to zoom on the map to the state level in the United States, for total confirmed cases, recoveries, deaths and active cases (confirmed cases minus deaths and recoveries). Zooming to the sub-national level is also possible for the provinces (provincial level jurisdictions) of China, the provinces of Canada and the states of Australia.

The map also provides total global confirmed cases (which were 212,000 on March 18), total recoveries (83,000), deaths (8,700).

We ran into some difficulties with the website, with some data not appearing. However, multiple reloading solved the problem (simply clicking on the web address, without leaving the website).

South China Morning Post: Hong Kong’s premier English newspaper provides similar global data in a simpler format than the Johns Hopkins data (the data varies between the two, though not substantially).

The great advantage about these two sites is their consistency of approach and comprehensiveness, which makes it possible to obtain a snapshot of the situation in the geographies that interest virtually any web visitor.

Photograph: Screenshot of Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Global Cases

Boris on Costly High Speed Rail: “Keep Digging” the Hole

Referring to HS2, the under-construction high speed rail line from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “in a hole the size of HS2, the only thing to do is keep digging." He was replying to Brayton Brent, a 10-year old interviewer on a Skynews kid’s program.

HS2 is under review for possible cancellation and the current thinking is that the Johnson government will decide to go ahead with the project.

When approved in 2012, the project was to cost £33 billion. Costs have nearly tripled to £107 billion, inflation adjusted.

WSJ Editorial: How Politics Created the Oregon Housing Shortage

A January 5, 2020 Wall Street Journal editorial examines Oregon’s housing affordability crisis. The editorial, “The Housing Shortage in Profile: Construction in Oregon dropped to the lowest level since World War II” not only describes the immediate consequences of Oregon’s recently enacted land use regulations but also provides the four decade context that has done so much damage to its middle-class. Oregon’s median house prices have generally at least doubled relative to household incomes since 1990.

A couple of excerpts follow:

“Politicians bemoan the lack of affordable housing, but their policies often create the problem. Look no further than Oregon, where restrictive zoning and mandates have yielded the lowest rate of residential construction in decades.

“Oregon’s land-use rules have been dysfunctional for decades. In the 1970s lawmakers worried about sprawl imposed strict limits on urban expansion. These urban growth boundaries have failed to adjust sufficiently to growing populations, choking residential development despite high demand. Rising housing prices are the inevitable result of this government-imposed scarcity."

Read the entire piece here: Wall Street Journal.

Google Chooses Mississippi

The Memphis Commercial Appeal has reported that Google will open its first US operations center in the northeast Mississippi. This area includes the suburbs and exurbs of the Memphis, TN-MS-AR metropolitan area.

Troy Dickerson, vice president of the Google Operations Center told WREG Channel 3 News: “We are excited to continue growing our workforce across the southeast and are confident that Mississippi will be a great home for Google,” “This operations center will give us the opportunity to hire amazing local talent as we expand in the region.”

Mississippi US Senator Roger Wicker told WREG Channel 3 News that “Google’s decision to locate more than 350 jobs and their first U.S. Operations Center in Mississippi is a testament to our state’s great workers and pro-growth policies, I am glad to welcome one of the most innovative companies in the world to northwestern Mississippi.”

Choose Energy Publishes Energy Rates by State

Choose Energy tracks energy rates by state. Find your state on the interactive map below to see the latest average rate, its rank among other states and the percentage change from the previous month. Learn more at


What Works for Seattle Doesn't Work for the Rest of Puget Sound

A new study released by WPC, authored by national transportation expert and urban policy analyst Wendell Cox, puts Seattle transit hype into perspective.

Cox evaluated population, employment, and commute trip data for the Puget Sound and found that automobiles are used by more than two-thirds of commuters to get to work throughout the Puget Sound.

Transit boosters often point to Commute Seattle survey data to bolster their view that transit is regionally popular and should be expanded to generate more work trips and reduce driving. They rely on the survey’s statistic that 48% of commuters get to downtown Seattle by transit. That’s true, but it’s a niche market, Cox says, as only about 12% of Puget Sound employment is located in downtown Seattle.

Outside of downtown Seattle, 76% of work trips are made by car. This will continue to be the case into the future.

Read the rest of the piece at Washington Policy Center.

Mariya Frost is the Director of the Coles Center for Transportation at Washington Policy Center. She is a graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in Political Science. She is on the Board of Directors for the Eastside Transportation Association, a member of the Jim MacIsaac Research Committee, and a member of the Women of Washington civic group. She and her husband live in Tacoma.

Former London Mayor Blames Jewish Vote for Labour Loss

The Daily Mirror (London) headline reads: “Ken Livingstone says it's 'the end' for Jeremy Corbyn and blames 'Jewish vote'” Livingstone, the former two-term mayor of London commented on the landslide Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party loss, saying “The Jewish vote wasn’t very helpful.”

Numbers may not be the former mayor’s strength. Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and his Tories racked up a 2.7 million electoral majority in the election. Of course, British parliamentary elections, like American presidential elections are not determined by the popular vote. It is not known how many voters among the 650 constituencies would need to have changed their votes for Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn to become prime minister.

However, the vote margin dwarfs any possible number of Jewish votes. The Jewish population of the United Kingdom is estimated at under 300,000. If Jews voted in the same proportion as other UK citizens, there would have been fewer than 150,000 votes. Even if it is assumed that cutting the Johnson total in half, it would have required the unanimous votes of nine times as many Jews as live in the United Kingdom to have permitted Corbyn to move into #10 Downing Street.

Livingstone was indefinitely suspended by the Labour Party and reportedly faced “a full probe into his alleged anti-Semitism” (see: “Ken Livingstone suspended from Labour indefinitely and will face full anti-Semitism probe”). Livingston subsequently resigned from the Party.

Johnson succeeded Livingstone in the mayor’s office and also served two terms, before entering parliament and now winning the election to earn a full term.