The employment situation, so dire at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that the unemployment rate shot up to 14.8% in April 2020 from 3.5% in February of the same year, has largely recovered. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION — NOVEMBER 2021. It showed that 210,000 new jobs were added during the month and that the jobless rate dropped to 4.2%.
Geographically, the job recovery has been uneven. Another BLS report shows that the jobless rate in November was 1.8% in Nebraska (the lowest) and 6.9% (the highest) in California and Nevada.
In some cases, a single industry drives the jobs situation in a state. This is certainly true of the gaming and entertainment industries in Nevada. They were decimated by the COVID-19 pandemic and have not entirely recovered. With the rise of the Omicron variant of the virus, Nevada could be in deep trouble again.
The geographic spread is even greater among cities. The latest BLS figures covering these are for October. The jobless rate in Logan, UT was 1.1%. At the far end of the spectrum, the figure was 17.7% in El Centro, CA.
The New York Federal Reserve recently issued a report that covered job growth and losses in America’s largest metro areas. Eighty-eight of the largest 100 had fewer jobs in October 2021 than in February 2020. According to Bloomberg:
“While the list highlights the progress some areas have made in recovering jobs lost to the pandemic, it also illuminates those that have the most ground to make up heading into 2022.”
The NY Fed figures show that Honolulu has a job deficit between the two periods of 10.4%. Presumably, this is another example of how COVID-19 ravaged the hospitality industry. Hawaii is the destination point of hundreds of thousands of tourists per year. At the early peak of the pandemic, the state virtually shut the islands down.
As the pandemic starts a new wave, driven by Omicron, it is possible the hole in Honolulu’s job market could get worse.
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