Red states recovering faster from pandemic economy than blue states

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Posted at 10:13 AM, Aug 04, 2022

Data shows red states—those that lean Republican—are recovering faster economically since the start of the pandemic than Democratic-leaning blue states.

Since the pandemic began, red states have added 341,000 jobs to their pre-COVID numbers, according to the Department of Labor. The agency says blue states are still 1.3 million jobs short.

Few places illustrate that disparity more than New Braunfels, Texas, a city in between San Antonio and Austin. It has nearly doubled its population over the last decade.

“When you’re in a high-growth corridor with a high quality of life in a region that is generating a lot of business relocations with adjacencies to suppliers and all the other factors, there’s a lot of interest in this community,” said Jonathan Packer, President and CEO of the Greater New Braunfels Chamber of Commerce.

Over the last ten years, New Braunfels has seen its population explode from 57,000 people to more than 100,000 people, as it grows 6% each year.

Packer says the growth is largely due to remote work, the cheaper cost of living and lifestyle. With recent inflation and rising interest rates he says it only makes places like New Braunfels more appealing as the influx has attracted more college graduates. In its years of growth, New Braunfels has seen its share of residents with a bachelor’s degree or higher increase by 11.5%.

“We are trying to recruit good, clear industry,” added mayor Rusty Brockman. “We’re trying to recruit new technology type industry. We are trying to recruit industry with good paying jobs because what that does is it continues to make that wealth creation for everybody, not just a single few.”

“It’s that entrepreneurial spirit of hard-working folks who want to provide something for their community that they can be proud of and that they can share,” he added.

The growth has come with its challenges. Brockman says providing the infrastructure, permits, and staffing to keep up has been difficult as older residents lose their small-town feel, but it has attracted a larger tax base that allows these areas to tackle projects that may have once been a pipe dream.

“It makes me proud to come downtown to know what I saw when I was younger and first coming here,” said Brockman.

Even with its growth, the history of these regions cannot be changed, only added to as they draw from the past to build their burgeoning futures.