Covid-19 in the US and Canada – deaths and unemployment

A few month ago I drew a comparison between US and Canada on two dimensions: Covid-19 deaths and employment losses since January. The data I used told a simple story: Canada has seen less death and roughly similar employment losses. This suggests that Canada is doing something (relatively) right: compared to the US, deaths are lower at no obvious economic cost.

Well, I have updated these data and in the process accessed some more reliable labour force information from the US and Canada. The sources for employment data:

Canada: Labour Force Survey, Statistics Canada

US: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

For Covid-19 data, I went to national government sources. All of these numbers contain some error — there is a lag in reporting deaths, and there are all sorts of ways that labour force data can be wrong. However if the data are anywhere close to correct, they tell an interesting story:

Note first that the employment recovery in Canada is well ahead of that in the US, and it has been trending that way since June. Second, note that the risk of Covid-19 death in the US is about 2.5 times higher than it is in Canada, but that this difference is particularly striking since July, at which point mortality risk began to diverge considerably. As of September 2020, the probability of dying from Covid-19 in the US is 16 times higher than in Canada.

In terms of attributable risk, in Canada, more than 14,000 lives were saved by not having the same risk profile as the US; conversely, over 120,000 American lives would have been saved if the US had Canada’s risk profile.

Take a look at the calculations yourself. Feel free to tell me if there are any necessary corrections!