With more than half of the U.S. starting to reopen at least partially but almost 36.5 million Americans having lost their jobs during the pandemic, WalletHub released updated rankings for the States with the Biggest Increases in Unemployment Due to the Coronavirus, along with accompanying videos.
To identify which states’ workforces have been hurt most by COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on increases in unemployment claims. We used this data to rank the most impacted states in both the latest week for which we have data (May 4) and overall since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis (March 16). Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A. To see the states most impacted since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, click here.
Increase in California Unemployment Due to Coronavirus (1=Worst, 25=Avg.):
- 440.23% Increase in Unemployment Claims (May 2020 vs May 2019)
- 214,028 the week of May 4, 2020 vs 39,618 the week of May 6, 2019
- The lowest increase in the U.S.
- 482.86% Increase in the Number of Unemployment Claims (May 2020 vs January 2020)
- 214,028 the week of May 4, 2020 vs 36,720 the week of January 1, 2020
- 24th lowest increase in the U.S.
- 1,329.04% Increase in Unemployment Claims Since Pandemic Started
- 4,202,932 between the week of March 16, 2020 and the week of May 4, 2020 vs 316,238 between the week of March 18, 2019 and the week of May 6, 2019
- 5th lowest increase in the U.S.
To view the full report and your state’s rank, please visit:
Or view this YouTube video summarizing the study.
How can we reverse the spike in unemployment caused by the coronavirus pandemic?
“The unemployment rate will not return to normal levels until we develop either a vaccine for COVID-19 or herd immunity,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Until we have a vaccine, we must protect people vulnerable to the disease by, at the very least, requiring face masks in all indoor spaces and offering free deliveries of essential purchases, whether ordered online or by phone. The government couldn’t buy enough time to come up with a vaccine before it became untenable to keep people indoors en masse, so it looks like we’re going to need a plan for re-opening as safely as possible. One of the most important tools in that effort will be app-based contact tracing, but it will have to be mandatory and that means finding a way to do it without jeopardizing any personally identifying information first.”
What can states do in order to minimize the rise in their unemployment rates?
“States should aggressively focus on keeping residents safe from coronavirus while enabling economic activity, which requires moving out of the phase of simply issuing guidelines on people’s behavior and instead passing laws,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “When states reopen businesses, they should simultaneously issue strict rules such as mandatory mask wearing in public and limits on the number of people in a store. If COVID-19 restrictions are recommendations rather than laws, that allows people to disregard the safety of others for their own comfort and risk spreading the disease.”
How do red states and blue states compare when it comes to increases in unemployment?
“With an average rank of 24 among the most affected states, blue states suffered a higher increase in unemployment during the coronavirus outbreak than red states, which rank 28 on average,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The lower the number, the higher the increase in initial unemployment claims that state received during the coronavirus pandemic.”
How has the unemployment rate in New York – the state with the most COVID-19 cases – been affected?
“New York has seen a 347% increase in initial unemployment claims from the beginning of 2020 to the week of May 4,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “This is better than the average increase of 822%.”