Unemployment Rate of 2.9% in South Dakota Shows Uneven Recovery

The job market is thriving in nearly a dozen states including South Dakota and Utah at the same time high unemployment persists in other places like Hawaii and New York – underscoring the recovery’s unevenness.

The unemployment rate in February was less than 4% in ten states, but double that, or more than 8%, in seven others including the District of Columbia, according to Labor Department data released Friday. The national unemployment rate was 6.2% in the month.

Unemployment Rate of 2.9% in South Dakota Shows Uneven Recovery

Business restrictions and vaccine distribution has varied by state as the pandemic drags on, exacerbating the choppy nature of the labor market recovery. Roughly 10 million people are unemployed in the U.S., according to February’s jobs report, though hiring is expected to improve in the coming months as more states reopen and health concerns ease.

“We expect a full labor market recovery to be a gradual process,” Nancy Vanden Houten, economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note.

Hawaii’s unemployment rate at 9.2% leads the nation, and is up 7.1 percentage points from February 2020. New York, California, and Connecticut follow with jobless rates at 8.5%.

In South Dakota, which has had some of the most lenient Covid restrictions, joblessness fell to 2.9% last month, the lowest among all states. Utah and Nebraska rates were also low. Though unemployment remains high in California, the state has regained nearly 39% of the jobs lost in March and April last year after the virus first broke out, according to the state’s employment office.

The national unemployment rate was little changed over the month, but was 2.7 percentage points higher than in February 2020.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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