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Tracking COVID-19's impact on employment in every state

  • Tracking COVID-19's impact on employment in every state

    The COVID-19 pandemic has hit the U.S. economy like a ton of bricks. Between business shutdown orders, supply chain disruptions, travel bans, social distancing orders, and, of course, the health impact of the coronavirus, entire industries across the country have been decimated. Profits have been wiped out, but worse yet, millions of workers have found themselves out of a job—either furloughed or permanently laid off. As a result, almost every state in the nation has seen unparalleled job-loss numbers, and local unemployment benefits agencies have struggled to process the waves of applications they’ve received over the last few months.

    While every state is reeling from the massive losses of employment opportunities caused by the public health crisis, no two areas are having the exact same experience, especially now that state governments are starting to lift their lockdowns. Some states like New Hampshire have seen their unemployment rates start to level off from the sky-high numbers they were seeing a couple of months ago. Other states like California are still enduring new rounds of layoffs announced by major corporations, making the hope for a recovery feel even more distant. Then there’s Hawaii, a state that relies heavily on two industries that have been nearly wiped out by the pandemic: tourism and leisure. Experts from the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization predict the state won’t see visitor numbers return to their 2019 levels for another five years. Without travelers to care for, Hawaiians in the tourism and leisure industries may face limited work opportunities for years to come.

    In its ongoing effort to track COVID-19’s impact on workers, Stacker compiled data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on how unemployment rates have changed. States are ranked by their highest rates of unemployment as of May 2020, with ties broken by the biggest change in the unemployment rate from February to May 2020. We also looked at news reports and other government data to zero in on the employment scene in every state.

    Want to know how workers in your state have fared during the pandemic? Explore the story to see the latest unemployment rates in all 50 states.

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  • #50. Nebraska

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 5.2%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +2.3%

    The gradual reopening of Nebraska has helped some previously laid-off workers return to their jobs in early June. The state has already seen decreases in unemployment benefit claims from people who work at dental practices and in the beauty industry.

  • #49. Utah

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 8.5%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +6.0%

    In early June, Utah saw the most new unemployment claims from office and administrative support staff, managers, and salespeople, according to David Wells of Fox 13. The state has been seeing thousands of previously-unemployed workers end their request for benefits in recent weeks, indicating that things are slowly getting back to normal.

  • #48. Wyoming

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 8.8%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +5.1%

    The pandemic has resulted in layoffs in Wyoming’s tourism industry and fossil-fuel extraction businesses. While the state may be on track for a gradual recovery this summer, many people who work at restaurants, lodges, and coal companies were still without a job as of early June, according to the Associated Press.

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  • #47. Arizona

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 8.9%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +4.4%

    Arizona’s hospitality and food services industries have seen a staggering loss of jobs, dropping to about 175,000 from 300,000 in April. Other hard-hit industries in the state include retail trade, health care, and professional business services, according to Peter Aleshire of the Payson Roundup.

  • #46. Idaho

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 8.9%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +6.2%

    Teens and young adults in Idaho have suffered the biggest job losses during the pandemic, according to the Clearwater Tribune. More than 25% of workers age 34 and under submitted applications for unemployment insurance between March 15 and May 23, compared with just under 16% of workers age 35 and older. The layoffs of young people can largely be attributed to shutdowns in the leisure, hospitality, and retail industries.

  • #45. Montana

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 9.0%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +5.5%

    Montana saw the rate of new applications for unemployment benefits fall in early June, hinting at a possible recovery, according to the U.S. Employment and Training Administration. The state recently added new identity verification tools to its unemployment benefits application after paying out over $10 million in pandemic unemployment claims that are suspected to be fraudulent.

  • #44. North Dakota

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 9.1%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +6.9%

    Since the pandemic, North Dakota’s oil and gas industries have been struggling. Around 7,000 of the state’s oil wells shut down between March and mid-May. Layoffs in the mining, oil, and gas businesses have forced more than 8,000 North Dakotans to seek unemployment benefits as of May 22, according to Morgan Benth of KFYR TV.

  • #43. New Mexico

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 9.2%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +4.4%

    New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 15 times higher in early June than it was three months prior when the pandemic first started, according to Cabinet Secretary Bill McCamley, who heads the state’s Workforce Solutions, quoted in an article by Nancy Laflin of KOAT. As the state has started to reopen, some business owners expressed concern that their staff wouldn’t want to come back to work if they were earning more money from unemployment benefits, according to Ryan Laughlin of KOB4.

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  • #42. Maine

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 9.3%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +6.1%

    Unemployment benefits have cost Maine $720 million between March 15 and June 11, according to Caitlin Andrews of Bangor Daily News. While much of that money has gone to people who qualify for it, the state has been canceling thousands of claims that have been made through an unemployment fraud scheme.

  • #41. Connecticut

    - Unemployment rate (May 2020): 9.4%
    - Change in unemployment rate since February 2020: +5.6%

    With the shutdown in place, most of Connecticut’s newly-unemployed workers were laid off from hotels, restaurants, retail stores, and health care businesses, according to Shawn McFarland of the Hartford Courant. As of May 14, the state had already paid $1.3 billion in unemployment benefits, more than half of which came from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

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