Home / Economy / Articles / Most states gained jobs in July, but unemployment rates remained high compared to last year

Between June and July, the national unemployment rate dropped from 11.1% to 10.2% as employers added 1.8 million jobs. New state-level data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the employment situation improved in most states from June to July, but unemployment remained high compared to July of last year.

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Between June and July, the unemployment rate declined in 30 states, increased in nine, and remained essentially the same in 11 states. Compared to July 2019, the unemployment rate was up in all states and Washington, DC.

The unemployment rate was highest in Massachusetts at 16.1%, up from 2.9% in July 2019. Including Massachusetts, 18 states had unemployment rates in the double digits during July. Unemployment rates were lowest in Utah, Nebraska, Idaho, and Kentucky, at less than 6%.

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Nonfarm payroll employment increased or remained the same in 49 states and Washington, DC between June and July. New York and California added the most jobs, with July gains of more than 140,000 jobs in each state. But the largest percentage increases in employment took place in New Jersey and Rhode Island, with over the month increases of 3.6% and 3.1%, respectively. The only state to experience a decrease in employment was New Mexico, with an over the month decrease of about 0.8%.

In 30 states plus Washington, DC and the US Virgin Islands, the largest over the month employment gains took place in the leisure and hospitality sector. Nationally, leisure and hospitality jobs accounted for about one third of all July job gains. In 16 other states, the largest over the month percentage employment increase came from jobs in government.

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Most states experienced employment increases between June and July. Still, 49 states and Washington, DC had fewer employees on the payrolls this July compared to July last year. Looking at the overall change in employment, the employment decrease was greatest in California and New York, with over 134,500 jobs lost in each state from July 2019 to July 2020. In percentage terms, employment decreased the most in Hawaii and New York over the year, decreasing by 16.1% and 13.7%, respectively.

As Americans continue to face the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, employment will be an important indicator of the nation’s recovery.