After crashing from a five-decade best national jobless rate of 3.5% in February to a multidecade high of 14.7% in April, the figure settled at 6.7% in December. Based on the country’s rate over the last five years, that is still high. The total number of people unemployed in December was 10.73 million compared to 5.84 million in December 2019.
Unemployment rates varied significantly by state according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics State Employment and Unemployment Summary December 2020. For the month, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 15 states, while that dropped in 11, and were the same in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Nonfarm payrolls exclude military, government jobs, and non-profits.
Hawaii and Nevada were the two states with the highest levels in December. Hawaii’s was 9.3% and Nevada’s was 9.2%. Each was attributed to large drop-offs in their essential tourism business due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nebraska and South Dakota had the lowest rate at 3%.
24/7 Wall St. concentrated on three figures to examine the jobless rate by state. The first is the civilian labor force. We looked at that number for 2020 and 2019 and the percent change. The state with the largest civilian labor force in December 2020 was California at 18,960,473. The smallest is Wyoming at 294,000. We also looked at the number of people unemployed by state and the change between the two periods. Finally, we looked at the jobless rates in December 2020 and December 2019 and compared them.