Report: ‘Bathroom bill’ to cost North Carolina $3.76B
Raleigh, N.C. — Despite Republican assurances that North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” isn’t hurting the economy, the law limiting LGBT protections will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to an Associated Press analysis.
Over the past year, North Carolina has suffered financial hits ranging from scuttled plans for a PayPal facility that would have added an estimated $2.66 billion to the state’s economy to a canceled Ringo Starr concert that deprived a town’s amphitheater of about $33,000 in revenue. The blows have landed in the state’s biggest cities as well as towns surrounding its flagship university, and from the mountains to the coast.
The AP analysis — compiled through interviews and public records requests — represents the largest reckoning yet of how much the law, passed one year ago, could cost the state. The law excludes gender identity and sexual orientation from statewide antidiscrimination protections, and requires transgender people to use restrooms corresponding to the sex on their birth certificates in many public buildings.
Still, AP’s tally is likely an underestimation of the law’s true costs. The count includes only data obtained from businesses and government officials regarding projects that canceled or relocated because of HB2. A business project was counted only if AP determined through public records or interviews that HB2 was why it pulled out.
The AP also tallied the losses of dozens of conventions, sporting events and concerts through figures from local officials. The AP didn’t attempt to quantify anecdotal reports that lacked hard numbers.
Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan — who leads the largest company based in North Carolina — said he’s spoken privately to business leaders who took projects elsewhere because of the controversy, and he fears more decisions like that are being made quietly.
“Companies are moving to other places, because they don’t face an issue that they face here,” he told a World Affairs Council of Charlotte luncheon last month.
Other measures show North Carolina has a healthy economy. By quarterly gross domestic product, the federal government said, North Carolina had the nation’s 10th fastest-growing economy six months after the law passed. The vast majority of large companies with existing North Carolina operations have made no public moves to financially penalize the state.
HB2 supporters say its costs are tiny compared with an economy estimated at more than $500 billion per year, roughly the size of Sweden’s.
Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest issued a statement Monday accusing the AP of “another attempt to mislead and confuse the public through a bogus headline.” Forest questioned the tally and said that even if true, it would represent only a sliver of the state’s economy.
But the state governor — Democrat Roy Cooper, who’s long opposed HB2 — responded to AP’s story by saying: “We now know that, based on conservative estimates, North Carolina’s economy stands to lose nearly $4 billion because of House Bill 2.”