Home / Articles / In March, three states reported unemployment rates at or below pre-pandemic levels

Employers added 916,000 jobs nationwide in March, while the unemployment rate fell from 6.2% to 6%.

Job numbers improved or remained stable in every state last month, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. Twenty-nine states added jobs to payrolls. Unemployment rates fell in 20 states as well as Washington, DC.

Unemployment rates ranged from 2.9% to 9% in March.

Nebraska, Ohio, and South Dakota reported the same or lower unemployment rates compared to February of last year — before the economic toll of the pandemic began. Montana, New Hampshire, Utah, and Vermont were within half a percentage point of pre-pandemic unemployment rates.

Hawaii and New York reported the highest unemployment rates in March.

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Four states — Nebraska, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont — reported the lowest unemployment rates in March, at 2.9%.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate of 9% was the highest in the nation. New York followed at 8.5%, with New Mexico, Connecticut, California, and Nevada all reporting rates above 8%.

The unemployment rate in North Carolina fell from 5.7% in February to 5.2%, the largest decrease of any state. New York and North Dakota followed with drops of 0.4 percentage points each.

Hawaii has lost the most jobs since the start of the pandemic.

Hawaii remains the hardest hit, with a 17% decline in payroll employment since the start of the pandemic. Nevada and New York also reported drops of more than 10%.

Idaho and Utah both reported higher job figures in March compared to February 2020, while Montana and South Dakota were less than 2% below pre-pandemic employment levels.

Idaho and Utah remain the only states to have surpassed pre-pandemic job numbers.

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Where have Hawaii and New York lost the most jobs?

Hawaii and New York are two states whose economies have struggled throughout the pandemic. The leisure and hospitality industry took a blow in both — reporting a 37% decline in employment compared to February 2020 in Hawaii and a 34% decline in New York. Tourism normally makes up a larger share of the economy in Hawaii than in New York.

Before the pandemic, the leisure and hospitality industry was the largest job creator in Hawaii.

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The leisure and hospitality industry currently accounts for 42% of the 111,900 positions that have disappeared since the start of the pandemic in Hawaii, compared to 33% of the 987,300 jobs lost in New York. Trade, transportation, and utilities makes up the second-largest share of lost jobs in both states — 21% in Hawaii and 16% in New York.

The largest number of jobs in New York are in education and health services.

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Education and health services are responsible for the third-largest share of lost jobs in New York, at 15%. Government employment holds that position in Hawaii, making up 11% of jobs that have disappeared.

As vaccination efforts continue and warmer weather returns, the leisure and hospitality industry has continued to recover. The industry accounted for the most jobs created in March in 23 states — including New York and Hawaii.

See other indicators about the recovery from the pandemic at the COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Hub.

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