Here are the 10 states with the lowest — and highest — unemployment rates as COVID-19  economic recovery sputters along

In July, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the national unemployment rate in June was 11.1% — an unhealthy level, but far better than the 14.7% we saw in April.

The national July numbers, which will be reported Friday, are expected to be better than last month. Experts are forecasting an unemployment rate of 10.5%.

But how are things looking in each of the states?

The most recent state-by-state data, which was posted last Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, revealed that there are some states that are truly seeing a “V-shaped recovery,” as Fortune noted Thursday. But too many states are still languishing in a slower-than-hoped-for recovery from the hit that the coronavirus — as well as the federal, state, and local governments’ responses — delivered to the American economy.

Leading the states that have recovered seemingly quickly is Kentucky. The Bluegrass State’s unemployment rate is currently 4.3% — nearly identical to its pre-COVID rate of 4.2% in February. The state hit a peak unemployment rate of 16.6% in April, but seems to have fully recovered — at least when it comes to jobs. And the recovery appears to have come as a surprise to the state government. From Fortune:

But dig a bit deeper and it’s clear that not all recoveries are proceeding equally. They vary immensely by state. In Kentucky, the seasonally adjusted jobless rate soared from 4.2% in February to 16.6% in April, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But as Governor Andrew Beshear reopened the Bluegrass State’s economy, the jobless rate sunk to 4.3% by June — the lowest in the nation. That’s a textbook V-shaped recovery.

The swift recovery in Kentucky even caught its state officials by surprise. In May the state projected a $457 million general fund shortfall, however, it ended the fiscal year in June with a $177.5 million surplus. It helped that Kentucky doesn’t rely heavily on industries like leisure and hospitality that were decimated by the pandemic.

On the other end of the joblessness spectrum is Massachusetts, where the unemployment rate has continued to rise during the COVID-19 crisis. As recently as March, the state’s unemployment rate was 2.8%, but it took a huge jump to 16.2% in April. And the most recent data shows the Bay State currently with a rate of 17.4%.

Generally speaking, rural states tend to be out-performing more populous states.

The 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates:

No. 1: Kentucky

Current unemployment rate: 4.3%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 16.6% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 4.2%

No. 2: Utah

Current unemployment rate: 5.1%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 10.4% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 2.5%

No. 3: Idaho

Current unemployment rate: 5.6%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 11.8% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 2.7%

No. 4: North Dakota

Current unemployment rate: 6.1%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 9.1% (May)

● February unemployment rate: 2.2%

No. 5: Maine

Current unemployment rate: 6.6%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 10.4% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 3.2%

No. 6: Oklahoma

Current unemployment rate: 6.6%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 14.7% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 3.2%

No. 7: Nebraska

Current unemployment rate: 6.7%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 8.7% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 2.9%

No. 8: Montana

Current unemployment rate: 7.2%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 11.9% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 3.5%

No. 9: South Dakota

Current unemployment rate: 7.2%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 10.9% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 3.3%

No. 10: Alabama

Current unemployment rate: 7.5%

● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 13.8% (April)

● February unemployment rate: 2.7%

The 10 states with the highest unemployment rates:

No. 1: Massachusetts
Current unemployment rate: 17.4%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 17.4% (June)
● February unemployment rate: 2.8%

No. 2: New Jersey
Current unemployment rate: 16.6%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 16.6% (June)
● February unemployment rate: 3.8%

No. 3: New York
Current unemployment rate: 15.7%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 15.7% (June)
● February unemployment rate: 3.7%

No. 4: Nevada
Current unemployment rate: 15%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 30.1% (April)
● February unemployment rate: 3.6%

No. 5: California
Current unemployment rate: 14.9%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 16.4% (May)
● February unemployment rate: 3.9%

No. 6: Michigan
Current unemployment rate: 14.8%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 24% (April)
● February unemployment rate: 3.6%

No. 7: Illinois
Current unemployment rate: 14.6%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 17.2% (April)
● February unemployment rate: 3.4%

No. 8: Hawaii
Current unemployment rate: 13.9%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 23.8% (April)
● February unemployment rate: 2.7%

No. 9: Pennsylvania
Current unemployment rate: 13%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 16.1% (April)
● February unemployment rate: 4.7%

No. 10: Delaware
Current unemployment rate: 12.5%
● Peak COVID unemployment rate: 15.9% (May)
● February unemployment rate: 3.9%

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Author: Chris Field


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