While 33 states still had double digit unemployment rates in May, unemployment stabilized or modestly improved from its April peak in most states. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the US unemployment rate fell from its 14.7% April high to 13.3% in May.
At the state level, the greatest declines took place in Mississippi, Kentucky, and Indiana, where unemployment dropped by more than five percentage points over one month. Unemployment rates remained stable or declined in all but three states—Florida, Connecticut, and Minnesota—which had approximately 1% increases.
Still, unemployment remained high in many states, with at least one in five people in the labor force jobless in Nevada, Hawaii, and Michigan.
Across most industries, employment remained stable or increased between April and May, with the exception of government jobs. Government employment declined by about 2%—or 540,000 jobs—nationwide, with most of the losses in state and local education.
The biggest job gains were in the leisure and hospitality and construction industries, which recovered a combined 1.7 million jobs between April and May. Leisure employment rose by more than 20% in seventeen states. Construction jobs nearly doubled in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Vermont during the month.
Amidst the recovery, Washington, DC and Hawaii still had around a 1% loss in total employment, driven by continued losses in the leisure and hospitality sector.
As states look to reopen their communities and rebuild economies, employment data will be an important indicator in the nation’s economic recovery from the effects of COVID-19.
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