States Whose Unemployment Rates Are Bouncing Back Most

Adam McCann, Financial Writer September’s jobs report showed a slowing of job growth. The economy gained 194,000 nonfarm payroll jobs, compared to 235,000 the previous month. In September, there were notable gains in sectors including leisure and hospitality, professional and business services, retail trade, and transportation and warehousing. Now, the U.S. unemployment rate sits at 4.8%, which is still higher than it was before the pandemic but is much lower than the nearly historic high of 14.8% in April 2020. This overall drop can be attributed largely to a combination of vaccinations and states loosening restrictions. It will take far more time for us to reduce the unemployment rate to pre-pandemic levels than it did for the virus to reverse over a decade of job growth, though. In order to identify the states whose unemployment rates are bouncing back most, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on five key metrics that compare unemployment rate statistics from the latest month for which data is available (September 2021) to key dates in 2019 and 2020.

<iframe src="https://cdn.wallethub.com/wallethub/embed/74907/geochart-unemployment-rates-state-v17.html" width="556" height="347" frameBorder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe><div style="width:556px;font-size:12px;color:#888;">Source: <a href="https://wallethub.com/edu/states-unemployment-rates/74907">WalletHub</a></div>



With unemployment benefits cut off, why do businesses still have problems finding workers?


“One of the main reasons that businesses still have problems finding workers is the continued presence of the pandemic, especially the Delta variant. Some workers have voluntarily quit their jobs as a way to minimize contact with other people. Other people are waiting to apply for jobs that provide better wages and benefits,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Another reason why businesses have trouble finding workers is that some people have been able to increase their savings and are temporarily comfortable as a result. They may be using the time away from work to reassess their professional choices and potentially pick a new career path.”


What qualities should unemployed people look for when choosing which businesses to apply to?


“The biggest thing that unemployed people should look for when choosing which businesses to apply to is compensation that’s appropriate for their field and skill level. Since there is currently an employment shortage, workers are in a great position to negotiate a worthwhile compensation package,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Other desirable features are the ability to work from home at least part of the time, measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a positive and friendly workplace environment, and a short commute.”


Is there a big difference in the unemployment rate among various demographics?


“The unemployment rate does differ sharply among different demographics. The unemployment rate for white people is 4%, while it’s much higher, at 7.4%, for black people. The racial disparity is troubling, especially in the context of broader discussions of inequality that have taken place in the past year,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The unemployment rate can fluctuate a lot by age, too; it’s only 3.9% for those ages 45 to 54, but 8% for people ages 20 to 24. It makes sense that people who have been in the workforce longer would have more job stability, but we should be concerned about the difficult conditions faced by young people.”


Which state has experienced the biggest increase in unemployment vs. the beginning of 2020?


“Hawaii has experienced the biggest increase in unemployment because the number of unemployed persons jumped by 212% from January 2020 to September 2021, compared to the average increase of 35%,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Hawaii’s overall unemployment rate is 6.6%, compared to the average of 4.8%.”


Which state has experienced the biggest decrease in unemployment vs. the beginning of 2020?


“Nebraska has experienced the biggest decrease in unemployment because it has seen a 33% decrease in the number of unemployed persons from January 2020 to September 2021, compared to the average increase of 35%,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Nebraska ’s overall unemployment rate is 2%, compared to the average of 4.8%.”