The United States is rebounding from the worst shock job market shock since the Great Depression, but the recovery isn’t spread evenly across the country. Massachusetts remained the state with the highest unemployment rate — 16.1% — and three states set new record highs in July, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.
The unemployment rates for Connecticut, New Mexico and New York reached new highs since record-keeping for state unemployment began in 1976.
New York’s 15.9% jobless rate was the second highest in the country, even though the state added 176,600 new jobs last month — the largest increase in the country last month.
New Mexico, which shed 6,000 jobs, had the biggest increase to its jobless rate, to 12.7% from 8.4%.
Meanwhile, some states are adding back jobs that vanished during the pandemic lockdown. Unemployment levels improved in 30 states last month, and remained stable in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Michigan registered the biggest decrease.
At only 4.5%, Utah has the lowest rate in the country, followed by Nebraska and Idaho.
Things are improving, but millions of Americans are still out of work.
On the whole, 1.8 million jobs were added to the US economy last month, bringing the total unemployment rate down to 10.2%, still higher than during the worst part of Great Recession.
The August jobs report comes out in two weeks.
Meanwhile, the expanded $600 weekly unemployment benefits under CARES Act expired at the end of July. That’s making it harder for those who remain unemployed or furloughed to make ends meet.
While Congress has yet to pass the next stimulus package, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to add a weekly $300 to unemployment aid by diverting disaster relief money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The White House initially required a 25% co-payment from states that would have brought the total benefit increase to $400 — with $300 from Washington and $100 from the state.
But many states can’t afford that. The Labor Department later clarified that states can use existing unemployment payments to meet the requirement for the new benefit expansion. But for the jobless that could mean they only receive $300 extra per week.
States have also had to fall back on funding from Washington for regular benefits as money is running out. California, New York and Texas are the biggest borrowers from the Treasury to keep money flowing to residents out of work.