The national unemployment rate dropped from 6.3% to 6.2% between January and February, with a net increase of 379,000 jobs. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that unemployment rates fell in 23 states and Washington, DC. They increased by 0.4 percentage points in Connecticut, 0.2 percentage points in Delaware and North Dakota, and 0.1 percentage points in Texas — with the remaining 23 states remaining stable. Meanwhile, 11 states added jobs, while three — Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Missouri — reported employment declines of 0.7%, 0.6%, and 0.4%, respectively.
As of February, only South Dakota and Kansas were back to their unemployment rates from a year before, while Nebraska, Montana, and Ohio remain less than half a percentage point away. Compared to January, Hawaii showed the largest improvement in the unemployment rate, which fell from 10.3% to 9.2%. Massachusetts, California, and Michigan also reported declines of half a percentage point or more.
Idaho and Utah are the only states reporting equal or slightly higher employment compared to before the pandemic. Montana, South Dakota, Arkansas, and Nebraska reported drops of less than 3% between this February and last year.
Idaho and Utah are the only states with higher employment in February than a year prior.
Michigan employment grew by 62,500 jobs or 2.6% between January and February, the most of any state, followed by New Mexico, California, and Washington.
In 48 states and Washington, DC, leisure and hospitality businesses fared the worst of any industry over the course of the last year. In February, employment in this sector was down by 52% in Washington, DC, 40% in Hawaii, 35% in New York, and 34% in California compared to the same month in 2020.
The only exceptions were Wyoming, where construction jobs fell by 14% — the most of any sector — and Oklahoma, where manufacturing jobs decreased the most, falling by 7%. The leisure and hospitality industry was still the second hardest hit in Wyoming, with employment falling by 4%. In Oklahoma, the sector was the fourth hardest hit, after professional and business services and construction.
The leisure and hospitality industry has faced the steepest pandemic job decline in all but two states.