Home / Economy / Articles / Job growth continued for most states in August, but employment remained low compared to last year

Between July and August, national unemployment continued to drop, reaching 8.4% as employers added 1.4 million jobs. Recent state-level data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that total employment increased in most states, although job numbers remain low compared to August of last year.

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Unemployment declined between July and August in 45 states, staying the same in Michigan and Washington, DC and increasing in Arkansas, Rhode Island, and Kentucky. Unemployment rates in all states and Washington, DC were still higher than they were in August 2019, with 12 states reporting an increase of five or more percentage points compared to the previous year.

Nevada reported the highest unemployment rate at 13.2%, up from 3.8% in August of last year. Unemployment rates remained in the double digits for nine other states, including New York and California. Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.0%.

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New York, Virginia, and New Jersey reported the greatest percent increase in employment in August at 1.8%. In 35 states, most of the jobs added were in government, partially due to the resumption of activities for the 2020 Census after it was postponed for several months. Nationally, government jobs accounted for 25% of the August employment increase, and 73% of new government jobs were at the federal level.

August job growth was slower than it was in July, when employment increased by as much as 3.1% and 3.6% in Rhode Island and New Jersey. Two places, Hawaii and Washington, DC, reported a decrease in employment in August, with respective losses of 1,300 and 1,200 jobs.

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Job numbers also remained below where they were in August 2019. Employment fell by 16.1% over the year in Hawaii, the largest percent decrease of any state, followed by 12.4% in New York and 10.9% in Massachusetts. The total number of jobs lost over the year was highest in California and New York, which reported decreases of 16 million and 12.1 million jobs, respectively.

The employment situation is one important indicator to help understand how Americans are faring as COVID-19 continues to affect the nation. Read more about how the nation is recovering from the pandemic at the Recovery Hub.