(The Hill) — Two years after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic caused a round of mass layoffs not seen since the Great Depression, 10 states have now set record-low unemployment rates as businesses scramble to hire new workers.
A new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows Nebraska and Utah boasted the lowest unemployment rates in the nation in January, at just 2.2% each. In Indiana, the unemployment rate stands at 2.4%, while in Kansas, it sits at 2.6%.
Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Montana, Oklahoma and West Virginia also set new records for the lowest unemployment rates since the BLS started keeping track of individual states in 1976.
Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia have seen statistically significant changes in unemployment rates over the last year, all in a positive direction.
In the last year, Nevada’s unemployment rate has dropped an incredible 5 percentage points, from 10.2% to 5.2% as the number of Americans flocking back to America’s gambling mecca has helped set new gaming records. The unemployment rates in Hawaii and New York, two other states hit hard by the pandemic, rebounded more than 3 percentage points each.
The number of people employed in non-farm jobs grew by significant margins in 46 states and Washington, D.C., over the last year. California added more than 1.1 million jobs, Texas added 687,000 new positions, and Florida added half a million. The number of people employed in Nevada rose by 10%, the highest proportional increase in the country.
Eighteen states now have more people employed than held jobs in February 2020, just before the pandemic took hold and sent unemployment rates skyrocketing, according to the BLS figures. Those states were: Alabama, Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode island, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.
Several others, including Kansas, Illinois, Florida, Mississippi, South Carolina, Washington and Wyoming, are poised to surpass their pre-pandemic employment totals in the coming months. Those states have just a few thousand jobs less today than they did during the pandemic.
The nation’s capital has the highest unemployment rate in the country, according to the BLS data. The agency said Washington’s unemployment rate, which historically tracks higher than the national average, stands at 6.3%.
California, Alaska, Connecticut, Maryland, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Pennsylvania all have unemployment rates at or above 5%.
The coronavirus pandemic delivered a terrible jolt to the national economy as businesses shuttered or laid off workers. BLS historical data shows 44 states reached their highest level of recorded unemployment ever in April or May of 2020.