Home / Economy / Articles / Unemployment improved in most states from May to June, but jobless rates remained high compared to last year

Read about the latest monthly report on unemployment rates and payroll data at the state-level.

Between May and June, the unemployment rate improved or remained about the same in all but five states (Arizona, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Nebraska), according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Still, for every state except for Kentucky, the unemployment rate was worse compared to this time last year; in eight states, the unemployment rate was more than 10 percentage points higher than the rate in June 2019.

Massachusetts had the highest unemployment rate in June at 17.4%, followed by New Jersey (16.6%) and New York (15.7%). In 19 states, the unemployment rate remained in the double digits amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Kentucky had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.3%, followed by Utah (5.1%) and Idaho (5.6%).

The national unemployment rate was 11.1% in June, down from 13.3% in May, but still significantly higher than last June’s unemployment rate of 3.4%.

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From May to June, nonfarm payroll employment increased in all 50 states and Washington, DC as states tried to reopen. But compared to June 2019, total employment was down in every state and DC.

California, New York, and Florida added the most jobs in June in total, gaining between 296,000 and 558,200 jobs over the month. Among these states, the largest industry-level increases took place in leisure and hospitality, then trade, transportation, and utilities, and education and health services, in that order.

Nevada, Michigan, and Kentucky had the greatest percentage increases in employment with 8.4%, 8.1%, and 6.5% increases in total employment, respectively. Meanwhile, eight states plus Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands experienced increases of less than 2% in total employment.

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For all states except Vermont, the leisure and hospitality sector had the largest percent employment increase. States experienced job gains in this sector between 5% and 43% from May to June. For example, Nevada’s highly tourism-dependent economy added more than 72,700 leisure and hospitality jobs in June, a monthly increase of 32.9%. In total, US hospitality and leisure employment increased by 2.1 million in June, making up more than 40% of all job gains during the month.

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Overall, every state added jobs in June—with the largest gains in the leisure and hospitality sector—and the unemployment rate declined in most cases. But across the board, employment was lower this June than in June 2019, signaling that most states have a long way to go in terms of economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis.