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New State Employment Data Reveal Pandemic’s Economic Toll

Two weeks ago, April’s national employment numbers revealed some of the economic damage the pandemic had already caused. Today, newly released Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) state-level employment data sheds additional light on the impact of the pandemic on state economies.

This information is especially useful now, because health and economic effects of COVID-19 vary greatly at the state and local level and require different policy responses as a result. State-level employment data, along with state jobless claims, provide useful information about the overall impact the virus has had on state economies, as well as which industries fared worse or better during the month.

Joint Economic Committee Republicans generate monthly reports based on updated BLS state-level data, and each state report compiles survey data on payroll jobs and payroll changes by sector, as well as household survey data that includes the unemployment rate, labor force participation, and the employment-to-population ratio.

Prior to the pandemic, rising labor force participation and rising employment as a share of the population were common across states, and a number of states were achieving record low unemployment rates. In March, nearly two-thirds of states saw significant payroll job losses, and all but three states registered rising or stable unemployment rates over the month. March employment data showed only the beginning of the pandemic’s effects, but April’s numbers provide updated information on the extent of the economic damage.

In the coming months, the data compiled in these state employment reports can serve as an indicator of how individual states are recovering economically as they continue to ease lockdowns and take cautious steps towards reopening businesses and public spaces. The May state-level employment data release, scheduled for June 19th at 10am, will follow two weeks after the national employment data release for May.

To access state reports, simply navigate to “State Data” on the green ribbon at the top of the page, or click here. From there, select a state on the map or list. At the top of the state’s landing page, the state employment report is linked beneath the state name banner, and titled with the current month of data; for example, see Utah’s “April Employment Update.” In order to make a given state accessible for future reference, a state page can be bookmarked on the browser or set as a home screen icon on a mobile phone. To receive email updates when new reports are generated, please email Kyle Treasure at Kyle_Treasure@jec.senate.gov.

Christina King
Senior Economist

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