With debate swirling over California’s tough pandemic-limiting tactics, new federal job stats show the state has the nation’s third-highest unemployment rate.

Many business leaders think Gov. Gavin Newsom has been too cautious in reopening the state’s economy in the battle to slow the spread of coronavirus. And even the governor has admitted he’s being “stubborn” after a first round of reopenings in late spring were reversed.

My trusty spreadsheet found some of the limitation’s economic pain in September’s state-by-state employment data. (Click on states in the map above to see job market details.) …

Unemployment: California’s 11% rate was topped only by Hawaii at 15.1% and Nevada at 12.6%. These three states all have major tourism industries that have been decimated by lockdowns and quarantine restrictions for travelers. Which state had the lowest unemployment rate? Nebraska at 3.5%, then South Dakota at 4.1% and Vermont at 4.2%.

Year-ago unemployment: California was further off the unemployment rankings in September 2019 when it had the 12th highest rate at 3.9%. Highest: Alaska at 6.2%. Lowest: North Dakota, South Carolina and Vermont at 2.4%.

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12-month change: When comparing those two jobless rates, California had the fifth-largest one-year change at 282%. Tops: Hawaii at 559%, then Massachusetts at 343% and Nevada at 341%. Lowest? Alaska at 116% then Nebraska at 117% and South Dakota at 121%.

Job change: California lost the most jobs in a year, 1.49 million. Next was New York at 1.1 million, and then Texas at 583,600.

Job percentage change: When you look at job loss as a share of all jobs, California — the nation’s largest employment markets — had the eighth-largest drop, down 8.5%. Tops were Hawaii, down 18.4%, New York, down 11.2%, and Vermont, down 9.6%. Smallest losses? Idaho, off 0.07%, then Utah, off 0.1% and Mississippi, off 2.2%.


By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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