Job Recovery Varies by State

By at 21 May, 2021, 12:53 pm

by Raymond J. Keating-

The nonfarm payroll employment numbers for the states were disappointing for April. According to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment increased in nine states, declined in two, and “was essentially unchanged in 39 states.”

The two states that experienced a statistically significant decline in nonfarm payrolls from March 2021 to April 2021 were Alabama and Michigan. And as for the nine states with increases in April 2021, they were California, Colorado, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Over the longer haul, only two states had payrolls at a higher level in April 2021 as compared to pre-pandemic February 2020. They were Idaho and Utah.

Over this longer period – again, from February 2020 to April 2021 – the states suffering the largest percentage declines in employment were:

Hawaii (-14.6 percent)

New York (-9.8 percent)

New Mexico (-8.8 percent)

Nevada (-8.2 percent)

New Jersey (-8.0 percent)

Rhode Island (-8.0 percent)

Louisiana (-7.9 percent)

Michigan (-7.8 percent)

California (-7.7 percent)

Massachusetts (-7.5 percent).


At the other end, the states experiencing the smallest percentage losses from February 2020 to April 2021 were:

Idaho (+1.7 percent)

Utah (+0.2 percent)

Arkansas (-1.6 percent)

Montana (-1.8 percent)

South Dakota (-2.0 percent)

Nebraska (-2.9 percent)

Arizona (-3.0 percent)

Tennessee (-3.1 percent)

North Carolina (-3.3 percent).


So, the road to getting employment merely back to where it was pre-pandemic varies notably among the states.

The question for policymakers in the states remain the same no matter where they happen to be located: Is our state’s tax, regulatory and spending policies pointed in a pro-growth direction – that is, incentivizing the entrepreneurship and private investment that drive economic growth – or pointed in an anti-growth direction, whereby government is imposing costs and expanding at the expense of the private sector?

Getting the answer right matters to recovery and growth in each state and for the nation as a whole.

Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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