The Associated Press has put a price tag on North Carolina’s 2016 anti-LGBTQ law: $3.76 billion over 12 years.
The AP’s report attempts to square the economic impact of boycotts and protests against HB2, which then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed into law last year. The losses range “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.”
Sporting events are a huge loss as well: “North Carolina could lose hundreds of millions more because the NCAA is avoiding the state, usually a favored host.”
But the AP also acknowledged that its tally “is likely an underestimation of the law's true costs. The count includes only data obtained from businesses and state or local 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 noted, as one example, that it left out the potential effect of Lionsgate television production pulling out of Charlotte, because it just didn’t have enough data to add up the economic impact.
Still, the AP reported that many companies have not pulled out of North Carolina, which, according to federal data, had the 10th fastest-growing economy in the six months after HB2 passed. Many large companies, such as American Airlines, continue working in the state, the AP noted.
In total, the AP’s estimate of $3.76 billion over 12 years — around $310 million a year — is a drop in the bucket for the state’s economy, which is valued at more than $500 billion a year.
But the AP’s findings show the economy could be even stronger if it wasn’t for HB2.
The AP’s tally updates previous analyses of HB2’s financial impact. Wired previously estimated that North Carolina as of September had lost $395 million — “more than the GDP of Micronesia” — as a result of the law.
HB2 overturns and bans local statutes that protect LGBTQ people from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It also prohibits transgender people from using bathrooms and locker rooms that align with their gender identity in schools and government buildings — due to a baseless myth that letting trans people use the bathroom or locker room for their gender identity would lead to men posing as trans to sexually harass and assault women in women’s facilities.
Since the law passed, it has been mired in huge national controversy. More than 200 business leaders signed a letter asking the state to repeal HB2. Multiple businesses, including PayPal and Deutsche Bank, pulled expansions from the state in response to the law. And it’s widely cited as a big reason that former Gov. McCrory, a Republican, lost his reelection bid to Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
Despite the controversy, the Republican-controlled legislature has failed to repeal HB2. So the law continues costing the state hundreds of millions a year, according to the AP.
For more on HB2, read Vox’s explainer.