New government figures show that the unemployment rate in August was highest in Nevada, lowest in Nebraska, and falling month-over-month in all states except Kentucky and Rhode Island, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said in a report Friday.
On the whole, the jobless rate tended to be above the national average of 8.4 percent in states in the Northeast and West, while jobless rates were generally lower in the Midwest and South—regions in which some states saw a recent uptick in COVID-19 cases.
States like Alabama, Arizona, Florida, and South Carolina saw cases of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus spike over the summer, Worldometers compiled data shows, while jobless rates there last month were all below the national average of 8.4 percent. These states also saw sharp over-the-month drops in the jobless rate, with Alabama’s falling by 2.3 percent, Arizona’s by 4.8 percent, Florida’s by 4.0 percent, and South Carolina’s by 2.4 percent—in all cases falling by more than the 1.8 percent national average decline in joblessness between July and August.
As states imposed lockdowns in attempts to curb the spread of the virus, the unemployment rate shot up in April across all regions, peaking at a national average of 14.7 percent, before falling, although at different rates. In August, the largest unemployment rate drops took place in Massachusetts (-4.9 percentage points), Arizona (-4.8 points), and Alaska (-4.2 percentage points). The jobless rate fell month-over-month by at least 2.0 percentage points in another 14 states, including Florida (-4.0 percentage points), Vermont (-3.5 percentage points), New York (-3.4 percentage points), and New Jersey (-3.3 percentage points). The only over-the-month jobless rate increases took place in Kentucky (+3.1 percentage points) and Rhode Island (+1.5 points).
In August, the unemployment rate was highest in Nevada (13.2 percent), followed by Rhode Island (12.8 percent), and Hawaii and New York (each at 12.5 percent). The lowest jobless rates in August were in Nebraska (4.0 percent), followed by Utah (4.1 percent), Idaho (4.2 percent) and South Dakota and Vermont (each at 4.8 percent). Overall, 29 states had jobless rates lower than the national average, 10 states had higher rates, and 11 states and the District of Columbia were close to the national average.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics employment report follows Thursday’s Labor Department release of jobless claims figures (pdf), which show that the pandemic continues to depress labor market recovery. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits last week ticked down by 33,000 from the previous week to 860,000, a number that, while down from a record 6.87 million for the week of March 28, remains historically high. The jobless claims report also showed that 12.6 million are collecting traditional unemployment benefits, compared with just 1.5 million a year ago.
The CCP virus has delivered a colossal shock to the economy. Until the pandemic upended the operations of American companies, from factories to family diners, weekly jobless aid applications had never exceeded 700,000 in the United States. They’ve topped 700,000 for over 25 consecutive weeks.
“As time during the pandemic seems to both race ahead and stand still, new jobless claims have remained historically elevated for 26 weeks, or a half-year,” said Bankrate.com senior economic analyst Mark Hamrick in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times. “The latest reading at 860,000 new claims in the programs administered by states marked a slight decline week-over-week and the fourth below 1 million since mid-March.”
Officials at the Federal Reserve on Sept. 16 voted unanimously to keep interest rates near zero, noting that the pandemic “will continue to weigh on economic activity, employment, and inflation in the near term and poses considerable risks to the economic outlook over the medium term.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world. Economic activity and employment have picked up in recent months but remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year,” the Federal Reserve said in a statement.
The U.S. economy created 1.371 million jobs in August after adding 1.734 million in July. So far, 10.6 million of the 22.2 million jobs lost at the height of the CCP virus crisis have been recovered.