Housing Hardship Index: Coronavirus Crushes Some State Economies, Especially Those Reliant On Tourism Dollars


Some patients infected with the coronavirus suffer devastating health effects, while others feel only mild symptoms. COVID-19’s economic effects are proving unpredictable, too — some states are being hammered by the resurgent disease, while others remain economically robust.

The tourism-dependent states of Nevada and Hawaii have reported relatively few COVID-19 deaths, but their economies are suffering the most among U.S. states. That’s according to the Bankrate Housing Hardship Index for May.

Our metric sums mortgage delinquencies and unemployment to show which states are enduring the most extreme slowdowns during the pandemic. Michigan, New Jersey and Rhode Island also struggled with the one-two punch of soaring delinquencies and mass layoffs in May.

“States experiencing high unemployment will see mortgage delinquencies surge if unemployment remains elevated as forbearance periods expire,” says Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate chief financial analyst. “This year may see the worst for unemployment, but 2021 will likely bring the worst for mortgage delinquencies and defaults.”

For now, foreclosures remain rare. Mortgage giants Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Housing Administration unveiled forbearance programs that allow borrowers to miss up to a year of payments without penalty. Real estate markets are local, as the saying goes, and the Housing Hardship Index indicates which regions may face protracted recoveries, and which areas might emerge comparatively unscathed.

Some states — especially those in the upper Great Plains — have weathered the coronavirus storm well so far. Nebraska had the best showing in the Housing Hardship Index, and Idaho also was performing well. Neither state’s unemployment rate had cracked double digits in May, when the national jobless rate reached 13.3 percent.

The 5 hardest-hit states from coronavirus

The fallout for real estate and labor markets is severe in some corners of the country. These five states fared the worst in May:

  1. Nevada. Its mortgage delinquency rate rose to 9.99 percent in May from 7.97 in April. Unemployment fell to 25.3 percent from 28.2 percent in April, for an overall reading of 35.29. Nevada also was the hardest-hit state in April.
  2. Hawaii. Another tourism-dependent state, Hawaii saw its mortgage delinquency rate rise to 9.30 percent in May from 7.12 percent in April. Unemployment edged up to 22.6 percent in May from 22.3 percent in April, for an overall measure of 31.90. Hawaii remained No. 2 in Bankrate’s hardship ranking.
  3. Michigan. The long-struggling state had reported more than 6,100 deaths from COVID-19 as of June 30. Its delinquency rate rose to 6.59 percent in May from 5.70 percent in April. Unemployment dipped to 21.2 percent in May from 22.7 percent in April, for an overall reading of 27.79.
  4. New Jersey. Another state hit hard by the coronavirus, New Jersey saw its delinquency rate jump to 10.49 percent in May from 8.81 percent in April. Its unemployment rate of 15.2 percent dipped down from 15.3 percent in April.
  5. Rhode Island. Mortgage delinquency rates jumped to 8.41 percent in May from 7.27 percent in April. Unemployment was 16.3 percent.

A deserted Las Vegas Strip

The Housing Hardship Index aims to show how states’ real estate markets [ … ]

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