Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma and West Virginia hit record high unemployment

(The Hill) – Two years after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic prompted a series of mass layoffs not seen since the Great Depression, ten states have now set record unemployment rates as businesses scramble to hire new workers.

A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Nebraska and Utah had the lowest unemployment rates in the country in January, at just 2.2% each. In Indiana, the unemployment rate stands at 2.4%, while in Kansas it is at 2.6%.

Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma and West Virginia also set new records for the lowest unemployment rates since the BLS began tracking individual states in 1976.

Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have seen statistically significant changes in unemployment rates over the past year, all in a positive direction.

Over the past year, Nevada’s unemployment rate has fallen 5 percentage points from 10.2% to 5.2% as the number of Americans flocking to America’s gambling mecca has helped establish new gambling records. Unemployment rates in Hawaii and New York, two other states hard hit by the pandemic, rebounded by more than 3 percentage points each.

The number of people employed in nonfarm jobs has increased significantly in 46 states and Washington, DC, over the past year. California created more than 1.1 million jobs, Texas 687,000 new positions and Florida half a million. The number of people employed in Nevada rose 10%, the largest proportional increase in the country.

Eighteen states now had more people employed than jobs held in February 2020, just before the pandemic took hold and sent unemployment rates skyrocketing, according to BLS figures. These states were: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Several others, including Kansas, Illinois, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Washington and Wyoming, are on course to surpass their pre-pandemic job numbers in the coming months. These states now have only a few thousand fewer jobs than during the pandemic.

The nation’s capital has the highest unemployment rate in the country, according to BLS data. The agency said Washington’s unemployment rate, which is historically above the national average, stands at 6.3%.

California, Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania all have unemployment rates at or above 5%.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a terrible jolt to the national economy, with businesses closing or laying off workers. Historical data from the BLS shows that 44 states reached their highest level of registered unemployment on record in April or May 2020.

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