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 more than 1.4 million, yet again.
The latest swath of applications brings the total amount of jobless claims to nearly 50 million over the past 15 weeks, wiping out the 20 million jobs added over the last decade by a more than two-to-one margin.
While some states have seen unemployment applications plummet from record highs after the coronavirus pandemic roiled America’s employment picture, some have suffered stubbornly high job losses months into the recovery. A Yahoo Finance review of jobless claims data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that Oklahoma, Alaska, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida have seen the weakest signs of return to normal and a bottoming out in job losses.
Comparing each state’s average weekly jobless claims totals over the past seven weeks to the seven weeks beginning March 14, which brought a record amount of unemployment applications, reveals that those states are stopping the bleeding much slower than others. Contrasting those first seven weeks of pain to the latest seven-week period shows that the five weakest states have only seen average weekly initial unemployment claims fall by less than 50%. On the complete opposite side of the spectrum, Rhode Island has seen weekly initial jobless claims fall 85% over the same period.
Other states enjoying some pretty drastic declines in weekly initial jobless claims since the pandemic first began include Michigan, Vermont and New Jersey, which all showed about an 80% drop in applications. To be sure, even the states showing a drop in initial jobless claims still have a long way to go to get back to pre-pandemic levels. Rhode Island, for example, is still seeing about three-times as many weekly jobless applications as it did before the pandemic, despite being the state with the largest average weekly drop.
Interestingly, the states showing the most dampened recoveries also mostly match with those suffering recent and notable spikes in coronavirus cases. In the South, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia have all suffered rising case counts with confirmed cases jumping more than 50% over the last two weeks of June. That observation would seem to support what Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stressed in his opening testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee this week.
“The path forward for the economy remains extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus,” he said Tuesday. “A full recovery is unlikely to occur until people are confident it’s safe to engage in a broad range of activities.”