(Reuters) – Unemployment rose, and total employment fell in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia in April, as efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic forced businesses to close across the country, the Labor Department said on Friday.
FILE PHOTO: People who lost their jobs are reflected in the door of an Arkansas Workforce Center while waiting in line to file for unemployment following an outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Fort Smith, Arkansas, USA on April 6, 2020. REUTERS / Nick Oxford – / File Photo / File Photo
The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said 43 states set a record high unemployment rate last month, with the highest being in Nevada, the state with the greatest reliance on the severely affected food services and hospitality. Nevada’s unemployed rose by 21.3 percentage points from March to 28.2%, which is almost double the national rate of 14.7% in April.
The monthly distribution of non-agricultural employment and the state-level unemployment rate, published two weeks after the National Wage Report, painted a picture of widespread but nonetheless devastating destruction caused by the spread of COVID-19, the respiratory disease that became triggered by the new coronavirus.
The payroll report on May 8 showed that the record lost 20.5 million jobs in April, which is the widest depth in US employment since the Great Depression.
Friday’s report indicated that more than a quarter of those job losses were concentrated in three of the largest U.S. states: California, throwing 2.3 million jobs; New York, which has seen the largest number of U.S. COVID-19 cases and deaths and lost 1.8 million positions; and Texas, which has suffered a double blow from the fall in oil prices and lost 1.3 million jobs.
In Nevada, home to the global gaming mecca in Las Vegas, half of the nearly 245,000 jobs lost in April were in the leisure and hospitality sector. This industry has suffered the biggest losses nationally due to the reduction in travel and widespread closures of dining rooms during a month of stay-at-home orders being widely used.
The loss of the leisure and hospitality sector also took a huge toll on Hawaii, which was one of only three states with unemployment above 20% – Nevada and Michigan being the other two. The Pacific State lost more than 55% of jobs and leisure jobs last month, representing 57% of all lost jobs during that period.
In Michigan, more than one in five jobs was eliminated, at least temporarily. The leisure and hospitality sector also led the decline there, but a quarter of the state’s losses came in the manufacturing and construction sectors.
Firings continue in May, though all 50 states have opened businesses to some degree. On Thursday, the BLS reported more than 2.4 million people applying for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, and those who continued to receive unemployment payments topped 25 million in the week ending May 9.
These data suggest that the worst may not be over for the hardest hit states like Nevada, Hawaii and Michigan. The number of continuing claims increased in all three, including a 31% week-over-week increase in Hawaii.
Economists believe that progress in reducing infection rates will be an important factor behind the success of the state’s reopening efforts.
On that front, at least both Hawaii and Nevada appear to be leaders, and they are among only eight states that have shown three straight weeks of declines in the seven-day average of new cases. Michigan is among 20 states that have seen declines in two of the past three weeks.
Reporting by Dan Burns; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Andrea Ricci and Paul Simao