Most States Added Jobs in September, But Hawaii & Nevada Continued to Struggle
How do you feel about the job market in your state?
by Causes | 10.30.20
What’s the story?
- The U.S. economy added 661,000 jobs in September and the national unemployment rate declined by 0.5 percentage points to 7.9%. That extended a streak of job growth to five months, in which the U.S. recovered just over half of the 22.2 million jobs lost in March and April due to lockdown measures initiated to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
- From August to September, 30 states added jobs and decreased their unemployment rates, but several face ongoing economic difficulties and overall employment is still down in 48 states relative to September 2019. This USAFacts chart shows each state’s unemployment rate in September 2020:
- Hawaii reported both the largest increase and highest total unemployment rate in September, as it increased 2.1 percentage points to a rate of 15.1%.
- Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate in the country in September at 3.5%, while New Jersey experienced the biggest drop from 11.1% in August to 6.7%.
- Two of the states with the largest economies in the country, California and New York, have seen slow labor market recoveries. California’s unemployment rate dropped from 13.3% in July to 11% in September; while New York’s unemployment fell from 15.9% in July to 9.7% in September.
- Only two states, Idaho and Utah, reported total employment levels in September 2020 that were within 1% of total employment the year prior.
Swing State Trends
- The economy is a significant issue in the upcoming elections, and the recent trends in unemployment rates in several competitive “swing” states will factor into who wins the presidency and control of key seats in Congress. Some of these states have seen their labor markets rebound more quickly than their peers.
- In Pennsylvania, the unemployment rate dropped by more than two percentage points from August to 8.1% in September. The change is even more significant when compared to July, when Pennsylvania’s unemployment rate was 13.7%.
- In Nevada, the unemployment rate declined from 13.3% in August to 12.6% in September, which remained the second highest unemployment rate among all the states. Nevada’s unemployment rate had been 14% in July.
- Other swing states where the unemployment rate is above the national rate of 7.9% in September include Michigan (8.5% in Sept., down from 8.7% in July); Ohio (8.4% in Sept., down from 8.9% in July); and Texas (8.3% in Sept., up from 8% in July).
- Several swing states had unemployment rates lower than the national rate of 7.9% in September, including Arizona (6.7% in Sept., down from 10.6% in July); Florida (7.6% in Sept., down from 11.3% in July); Georgia (6.4% in Sept., down from 7.6% in July); Iowa (4.7% in Sept., down from 6.6% in July); Minnesota (6% in Sept., down from 7.7% in July); North Carolina (7.3% in Sept., down from 8.5% in July); and Wisconsin (5.4% in Sept., down from 7% in July).
Weekly Jobless Claims Hit New Post-Pandemic Low
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that initial unemployment claims declined this week to their lowest level since the COVID-19 pandemic began in earnest, as did the number of continuing unemployment claims.
- This chart from USAFacts shows weekly unemployment insurance claims, including initial claims (pink) and continuing claims (blue), which surged in March and April amid economic lockdowns imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and have gradually declined:
- For the week of October 24th, initial claims declined to 751,000 ― the lowest level since the pandemic began. That improved on the 767,000 claims the week of October 3rd, and the 791,000 claims the week of October 17th (which was revised upward slightly from 787,000).
- While those totals are significantly higher than a typical, pre-pandemic level of weekly claims, which averaged about 215,000 in 2019, it’s an improvement on the more than 1 million initial unemployment claims per week that persisted from March through August.
- The number of continuing unemployment claims peaked at 24.9 million during the week of May 9th, but has declined from about 12 million the week of September 19th, to 9,397,000 the week of October 3rd, 8,373,000 the week of October 10th, and 7,756,000 the week of October 17th.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / ultramansk)
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