The States With the Worst Job Losses

Chairs have been removed at some electronic slot machines to maintain social distancing between players at a closed Caesars Palace hotel and casino Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. Casinos are awaiting to reopen amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Chairs have been removed at some electronic slot machines to maintain social distancing between players at a closed Caesars Palace hotel and casino Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. Casinos are awaiting to reopen amid the coronavirus outbreak. AP Photo/John Locher

 

Connecting state and local government leaders

Labor Department data released on Friday shows the states with the highest unemployment rates in April, and how many jobs were lost that month as the coronavirus upended the economy.

Nevada was the state with the nation's highest unemployment rate in April at just over 28%, followed by Michigan and Hawaii, which both had rates around 22%, the Department of Labor reported Friday.

Unemployment rates in 43 states set record highs in April compared to Labor Department data that goes back to 1976. The coronavirus outbreak, along with the business closures and stay-at-home orders adopted to control it, have led to a sharp economic downturn that is driving widespread job losses across most industries and states.

The national unemployment rate was about 14.7%, the Labor Department said, up 11 points compared to April of last year.

Unemployment rates in each of the states in March and April. [Click the chart to expand it in a new window.] (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Hospitality and leisure have been especially hard hit. Restaurants and bars have temporarily closed, or reduced to offering only take out service. Hotel occupancy has crashed as people forego travel.

This helps explain the soaring unemployment figure in Nevada, where tourism and gambling are major parts of the economy. The state lost 122,200 leisure and hospitality jobs in April, about 83,300 more than it lost over the entire Great Recession between December 2007 and November 2009, a report the state published on Thursday shows.

Michigan reported some of its worst job-losses last month in the manufacturing sector, which saw jobs slide from 619,000 to 445,000, a 28% decrease, between March and April, according to figures the state issued this week. This number could improve going forward, as automakers began calling workers back to factories this week.

But the state is also facing devastating job losses in other fields. Compared to March, April payrolls were down by 237,000 in the leisure and hospitality sector, 143,000 in professional and business services fields and 114,000 retail jobs.

"This virus has devastated families across the state and put hardworking Michiganders out of a job for months," Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said in a statement. "This isn’t just a problem in Michigan. Families across the country need help."

The states with the greatest number of job losses are, unsurprisingly, among those that also have the most residents.

California topped this list with 2.3 million jobs lost in April compared to March. The state was followed by New York (1.8 million), Texas (1.2 million) and Florida, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which all suffered about 1 million job losses.

Total job losses by state, March to April. Figures are in thousands so, for instance, California's job losses totaled about 2.345 million. [Click the chart to expand it in a new window.] (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Friday's full Labor Department release on state unemployment and job losses can be found here.

Bill Lucia is a Senior Reporter for Route Fifty and is based in Olympia, Washington.

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