Up and away? US states show recovery in employment rate

The US economy created less than a third of expected jobs last month, a major disappointment that could see the Fed refrain from removing stimulus from the US economy – Copyright AFP THOMAS KIENZLE

There are signs that the employment situation in the United States is improving after a downward spiral at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, the U.S. economy gained 199,000 jobs in December 2021. While this figure is down from 249,000 jobs the previous month, the data is encouraging for the Biden administration.

The unemployment rate in the United States stands at 3.9%, which is still higher than it was before the pandemic, but well below the near historic peak of 14.7% in April 2020.

Taking the dataset and analyzing it based on each US state, financial site WalletHub has released updated rankings. This appears in a report titled “States with the Most Rebounding Unemployment Rates.”

The “bounce back” ranking is not simply based on jobs, as a range of metrics were used to perform the assessment. For this, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on five key metrics that compare unemployment rate statistics from the last month for which data is available (December 2021) to key dates in 2019 and 2020.

The metrics used were:

  • Evolution of unemployment in December 2021 compared to December 2019
  • Evolution of unemployment in December 2021 compared to January 2020
  • Evolution of unemployment in December 2021 compared to December 2020
  • Unadjusted continuing claims in December 2021 over December 2019
  • Unemployment rate (December 2021)

The data shows that the top ten states that have recovered the most are:

  1. Nebraska
  2. Utah
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Montana
  5. Georgia
  6. Idaho
  7. New Hampshire
  8. Vermont
  9. South Dakota
  10. Virginia

In contrast, at the other end of the scale, the ten states that have not shown signs of a meaningful recovery (compared to other states) are:

  1. Michigan
  2. Maine
  3. New Mexico
  4. Connecticut
  5. Alaska
  6. New York
  7. California
  8. New Jersey
  9. Nevada
  10. Hawaii

There are reasons why some states are struggling to solve the unemployment problem. According to WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez, there are pandemic and non-pandemic issues: “One of the biggest reasons companies are still struggling to find workers is the continued presence of the pandemic, particularly the Delta variant. Some workers voluntarily quit their jobs to minimize contact with other people. Other people are waiting to apply for jobs with better pay and benefits.