Published on May 22, 2020

The unemployment rate hit double digits in all but eight states in April, based on data released from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Tourism-heavy Nevada was the worst hit, with the unemployment rate reaching 28.2%. In some states, more than one in five people in the labor force are unemployed, including Michigan, with an unemployment rate of 22.7%, and Hawaii, at 22.3%.

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The rising unemployment rate is another measure of COVID-19’s economic toll. Weekly data from the Department of Labor shows that at least 30 million people have filed unemployment claims since March 21.

The state data release comes a few weeks after the BLS announced the nationwide April unemployment rate was 14.7%, the highest level since the Great Depression.

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While the BLS reported job losses in every major economic sector, the leisure and hospitality industry was the hardest hit. Restaurants, hotels, and various travel-related businesses employed 8.5 million people in April, nearly half of the 16.8 million employed in February—the month before states began shutting down businesses due to the pandemic.

Eight Northeast states—Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont—each had more than a 60% drop in employment in the leisure and hospitality sector.

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Other industries, such as manufacturing, were less affected, though job losses were more significant in some states than others. Nationally, the number of people working in manufacturing dropped from 12.8 million in February to 11.4 million in April, a 10.9% decline. California, Michigan, and Ohio account for 408,000, or 29.2%, of the 1.4 million manufacturing jobs lost.

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The release of employment data in the coming months will serve as an indicator of how individual states and sectors are recovering from the economic effects of COVID-19.


While monthly data is usually compared with the month before or the same month in other years, this piece compares April data to February, the month that preceded COVID-19 shutdowns throughout the US.