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These states suffer the worst unemployment as coronavirus pandemic recovery lags

Zack Guzman
·Senior Writer
·3-min read

The number of jobs lost due to the coronavirus shutdown continue to mount, with the latest weekly total of Americans applying for unemployment benefits coming in at 787,000.

While some states have seen unemployment applications recede from record highs after the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. employment picture, others have suffered stubbornly high job losses months into the recovery. In some states, unemployment rates have shot higher than 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) at the state level through October 3, Hawaii is still currently suffering the worst employment picture with a nation-leading insured unemployment rate of 14.9%. The Aloha state has suffered the highest insured unemployment rate in the U.S. since the week ending August 8.

California held steady at second on the list with an unemployment rate at 11.5%, while Nevada remained in the third spot with its own insured unemployment rate at 11.3%. Both Georgia and the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico followed at 9.3%. All of the top regions are suffering from notably higher insured unemployment rates relative to the national average of 6.4% for the same week.

Read more: What to do before you lose your job

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 16 percentage points, down to about 11% from 27% during the week ended May 9.

The latest swath of unemployment insurance applications brings the total amount of jobless claims to more than 60 million since the pandemic began to roil the job market in March.

Jobless claims fell more than expected last week. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)
Jobless claims fell more than expected last week. (David Foster/Yahoo Finance)

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, Hawaii also notched the highest unemployment rate by that metric for the month of October at 15.1%, followed by Nevada at 12.6%. The report also showed Hawaii had been hardest hit since September 2019, suffering the largest unemployment rate increases since then at a rise of more than 12 percentage points.

The state only recently reopened for travelers opting to show a negative COVID-19 test. Up until last week travelers had to quarantine for 14 days after landing on the island. Hawaii Airlines CEO Peter Ingram told Yahoo Finance this week that the change is “turning a page” for Hawaii’s recovery.

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.

Zack Guzman is the host of YFi PM as well as a senior writer and on-air reporter covering entrepreneurship, cannabis, startups, and breaking news at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter @zGuz.

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