The number of jobs lost due to the coronavirus shutdown continue to mount, with the latest weekly total of Americans applying for unemployment benefits rising to 870,000.
The latest swath of applications brings the total amount of jobless claims to roughly 60 million since the pandemic began to roil the job market in March, wiping out the 20 million jobs added over the last decade by a three-to-one margin.
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While some states have seen unemployment applications recede from record highs after the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. employment picture in March, others have suffered stubbornly high job losses months into the recovery. In some states, unemployment rates shot as high as 20%.
According to the Department of Labor’s latest report, which breaks out the insured unemployment rate (a ratio of people on unemployment benefits divided by labor force) through September 5, Hawaii is currently suffering the worst employment picture with a nation-leading insured unemployment rate of 19.8%.
California held steady at second on the list with an unemployment rate at 15.7%. Nevada remained in the third spot with its own insured unemployment rate at 14.9%, followed by the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico at 14.1%. New York and Louisiana rounded out the worst job markets, with insured unemployment rates at 13.7% and 13.2%, respectively. All of the top regions are suffering from notably higher insured unemployment rates relative to the national average for the same week at 8.7%.
Compared to pre-pandemic levels, those unemployment rates are notably higher than the worst states listed in the week ended February 22. Back then, Alaska topped the nation with a similar unemployment rate at just 2.9%. As high as the unemployment rates are now in the hardest hit states, they have still marginally improved from peaks seen months prior. Nevada, for example, has seen its unemployment rate improve more than 10 percentage points, down to about 16% from 27% during the week ended May 9.
Looking at unemployment statistics published last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which measures unemployment by the more traditional ratio of unemployed workers to the size of the labor force, Nevada notched the highest unemployment rate by that metric for the month of August at 13.2%, followed by Rhode Island at 12.8%, and Hawaii and New York, at 12.5% each. The report also showed Hawaii had been hardest hit since August 2019, suffering the largest unemployment rate increases since then at a rise of nearly 10 percentage points.
As a Yahoo Finance review of jobless claims data showed earlier, some states are recovering more quickly than others, but all are still struggling with varying economic restrictions tied to controlling the spread of the coronavirus.