Numbers indicate 8 states now at 25% unemployment

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 849 views 

A report Thursday (April 30) from Bentonville think tank Heartland Forward shows eight states have seen more than a quarter of their workforce file for unemployment insurance (UI) since March 1.

In an analysis of jobless claims released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), Heartland research shows the eight states with unemployment greater than 25% are Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

Initial UI claims increased for the sixth consecutive week, according to Thursday’s DOL report, but at a slightly slower pace, for the week ending April 25. Only 3.8 million applied for unemployment insurance last week. Fewer initial UI claims three weeks in a row suggest that layoffs and furloughs may have peaked, according to Heartland researchers.

Initial jobless claims in Arkansas for the week ending April 25 totaled 16,745, down 34% from the previous week.

The initial jobless claims do not include workers in states reopening their economies this week. Heartland researchers Dave Shideler and Jonas Crews, the authors of Thursday’s report, say it remains to be seen whether the public feel safe enough to emerge from quarantine and public health officials fear a second spike in COVID-19 cases.

Heartland Forward uses the U.S. Census regions of East North Central, West North Central, East South Central, and West South Central to define the Heartland of the country. These regions cover the 20 states in the middle of the country: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Other takeaways from the Heartland research include:

  • The insured unemployment rate rose to 12% nationwide, and 11% in the Heartland. Alabama, California, Hawaii, Michigan, Mississippi and Pennsylvania appear to have declining rates, suggesting hiring may be occurring.
  • To date, Hawaii’s workforce has been hardest hit: 30% of its workforce has filed for unemployment insurance. Kentucky, Georgia, and Rhode Island follow Hawaii in employment losses.
  • While the total number (3.8 million) of UI claims is down from last week, eight states had increasing levels of initial claims: Washington (62,300, 75% increase), Georgia, (17,800, 7.2% increase), New York (13,700, 6.7% increase), Oregon (9,500, 26% increase), Nevada (5,500, 14% increase), Iowa (1,900, 7.2% increase), South Dakota (94, 1.8% increase) and New Mexico (91, 0.7% increase).
  • States with the greatest rates of decline in claims include Connecticut (-68%), New Jersey (-49%), Colorado (-43%), Montana (-41%), and Michigan (-41%).

On a weekly basis, Heartland Forward is updating interactive charts that track three metrics to understand the state-level economic impact of COVID-19: Initial unemployment insurance claims, the insured unemployment rate and the share of a state’s total workforce that has filed for unemployment.

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