Inside the Economies of Some of Super Tuesday’s Biggest Prizes
Volunteers hand out campaign pamphlets outside a polling station in Field Elementary School in Houston, Texas, U.S., on Tuesday, March 3, 2020. (Photographer: Sharon Steinmann/Bloomberg)

Inside the Economies of Some of Super Tuesday’s Biggest Prizes

(Bloomberg) -- It’s Super Tuesday in the Democratic primaries, with voting in 14 states underway to determine the candidate who will challenge President Donald Trump in November. The economy will be a major issue, especially in the face of the spreading coronavirus that’s weighing on global growth.

The picture now is of low unemployment and steady job gains at the national level, but the economic realities of Americans differ within and across U.S. states. Overall, populations have grown, unemployment rates have fallen and incomes have risen. Still, changing demographics, as well as updated population estimates from the 2020 Census, will likely alter the political landscape going forward.

Here is a synopsis of selected states holding a primary on Tuesday:


Vote in 2016: Clinton 61.7%, Trump 31.6%; Trump lost by 4.3 million votes

California is the country’s most populous state, with an economy that ranks fifth-largest in the world. The unemployment rate is at record low and incomes continue to rise, but for many, the costs of daily life -- especially housing -- are rising faster than wages.

California is expected to lose its first congressional district since it became a state in 1850 after the 2020 U.S. Census. Between April 2010 and July 2018, more than 710,000 Californians moved out, but the state gained more than a million through international migrants. About 2 million more residents were added through natural increase -- the number of births exceeding deaths. More than 15% of the state is of Asian background and Latinos and Hispanics represent about 40%, leaving the white, non-Hispanic population a minority.

Other data points:

  • Population: 39.5 million in 2019, up 6.1% from 2010
  • Unemployment rate: 3.9%, matching the lowest on record
  • Compound annual growth rate in per capita personal income (Q4 2016 to Q3 2019): 5%

Read more about California’s economy here.


Vote in 2016: Clinton 43.2%, Trump 52.2%; Trump won Texas by 807,179 voters

Second only to California in electoral votes, Texas is a big political prize. The state has been growing quickly with the 2008-2018 compound annual growth rate for real GDP at 3% -- the second highest in the country. Oil and gas remain a dominant force. The energy boom in areas like the Permian Basin has driven internal migration in the state, boosted wages and strained infrastructure.

Changing demographics -- including the more liberal workers who’ve moved to Texas for jobs -- are altering the political picture. But the sizable rural population has helped Republicans maintain a victory in the state. Texas is on pace to add more than 4 million new residents between 2010 and 2020. This growth is expected to boost its congressional influence by 3 seats to 39.

More data:

  • Population: 29 million in 2019, a 15.3% increase from 2010
  • Unemployment rate: 3.5%, up slightly from the lowest on record
  • Compound annual growth rate in per capita personal income: 4.9%
Inside the Economies of Some of Super Tuesday’s Biggest Prizes


Vote in 2016: Clinton 49.7%, Trump 44.4%, Trump lost by 212,030 votes

Incomes in Virginia are above the national average at $57,799 per person, the 12th highest in the nation. Virginia struggled to gain its footing following the recession as inflation-adjusted economic growth fell behind the national level and even contracted in 2014. But the unemployment rate is now matching its lowest level since 2001 as the robust jobs market has drawn more Virginians from the sidelines and into the workforce. Virginia added more than 500,000 residents since the 2010 U.S. Census -- the 9th largest gain among states.

Other highlights:

  • Population: 8.5 million in 2019, up 6.7% from 2010
  • Unemployment rate: 2.6%, matching the lowest since 2001
  • Compound annual growth rate in per capita personal income: 3.8%
Inside the Economies of Some of Super Tuesday’s Biggest Prizes

North Carolina

Vote in 2016: Trump 49.8%, Clinton 46.2%; Trump won by 173,315 votes

The state has benefited from a thriving labor market in recent years, attracting job seekers from across the country to fill new positions. Like the nation as a whole, the manufacturing sector has shed thousands of jobs over much of the last two decades, and employment in the sector has declined year-over-year for the past eight months.

The state’s population boom is expected to impact its congressional delegation by adding a single seat -- its 14th -- after the 2020 Census. African American voters make up about 22% of the electorate. While the state’s black unemployment rate is still significantly higher than the overall jobless rate, the gap between white and black unemployment has narrowed since 2016.

More data:

  • Population: 10.5 million in 2019, a 10% increase from 2010
  • Unemployment rate: 3.7%, matching the lowest since 2000
  • Compound annual growth rate in per capita personal income: 4%


Vote in 2016: Clinton 48.2%, Trump 43.3%; Trump lost by 136,386 votes

Known for its breathtaking views of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado’s thriving tourism industry has helped underpin broad-based job gains across the state. The leisure and hospitality sector makes up over a tenth of the non-farm jobs in the state and professional and business services jobs have grown about 12% since Trump took office. Colorado’s per capita personal income of $58,456 is the 11th highest in the U.S. and above the national average.

Population growth in Colorado is among the fastest growing in the country. The state added more than 700,000 people between 2010 and 2019 and is expected to add its 8th congressional seat in the 2020 Census -- surpassing the size of Minnesota’s delegation. The state is more than two thirds white non-Hispanic but 21.7% of the state’s population are of Hispanic or Latino descent.

Other statistics:

  • Population: 5.8 million in 2019, up 14.5% from 2010
  • Unemployment rate: 2.5%, the lowest on record
  • Compound annual growth rate in per capita personal income: 5.3%


Vote in 2016: Clinton 46.4%, Trump 44.9%; Trump lost by 44,765 votes

Minnesota has a long history of voting for the Democratic presidential candidate, but 2016’s tight result shows how it is becoming a battleground. The state has the third-highest share of workforce participation in the country and workers saw robust wage gains across 2019. The trade war with China and its tariffs have weighed on Minnesota’s agricultural sector -- the fifth largest in the nation by production.

The state’s tepid population growth will likely mean that its congressional representation will fall by 1 district to 7 after the 2020 Census. About four-in-five Minnesota residents are non-Hispanic whites.

More data:

  • Population: 5.6 million in 2019, a 6.3% increase from 2010
  • Unemployment rate: 3.3%, up half a percentage point since mid-2018
  • Compound annual growth rate in per capita personal income: 4%


Vote in 2016: Clinton 47.8%, Trump 44.9%; Trump won one electoral vote in Maine, its 2nd Congressional District, but lost the state by 22,142 votes

(Maine adapted a ‘congressional district method’ in 1972 to allocate two electoral votes to the state popular vote winner, and then one electoral vote to the popular vote winner in each Congressional district. This can lead to a split electoral vote.)

Forests cover over four-fifths of the state’s land, concentrating residents and industry nearer to the coast. Given its low population, Maine’s economy is one of the smallest in the country and it’s seen little expansion since the last recession. Maine saw a 0.6% compound annual growth rate for real GDP from 2008-2018, compared to 1.8% for the U.S.

The population in Maine is the oldest in the country and that’s helped drive down the participation rate from about 69% in early 2000 to about 62% today. The state added less than 16,000 residents since 2010. It’s also one of the least diverse. About 93% of its population is non-Hispanic white, according to U.S. Census data. And only 3.6% of the population is foreign born.

Other economic indicators:

  • Population: 1.3 million in 2019, a 1.2% increase from 2010
  • Unemployment rate: 2.9%, just above lowest on record
  • Compound annual growth rate in per capita personal income: 4.6%
Inside the Economies of Some of Super Tuesday’s Biggest Prizes

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