California is among the states that are recovering the fastest from the record unemployment numbers brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey has revealed.
The economy had been humming along, bringing record-low unemployment across the United States until COVID-19 forced states around the country to issue health orders that prevented many businesses from making money. As people hunkered down over the last few months and only went outside for essential services, unemployment in the U.S. skyrocketed to levels not seen since the Great Depression.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 40 million people were put out of work thanks to the pandemic since the pandemic began, wiping out all the jobs gains made since the Great Recession in 2008.
But as states began to flatten their infection curves and health systems became better prepared to handle an influx of COVID-19 cases, businesses have been allowed to reopen their doors (with some restrictions in place) and bring back some employees.
However, not all states are recovering at the same rate with many seeing a faster recovery in their unemployment rates than others around the country. According to a new survey from WalletHub, California, Arkansas, Oregon and Connecticut have all seen the best recovery in their unemployment rates since COVID-19 began, while states like Florida, Kentucky, New Hampshire and Georgia have all lagged behind.
Even as May's jobs report showed an increase of 2.5 million non-farm jobs, 21 million Americans remain unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. California's unemployment rate ticked down slightly in May to 16.3% from a revised 16.4% rate in April. In Los Angeles County the toll was higher, as the unemployment rate in Los Angeles County increased to 20.9% in May, up from 20.8% the previous month, according to figures released by the state Employment Development Department.
Those numbers are far above what the state experienced during the peak of the Great Recession (12.3%) more than a decade ago. At this time last year, California's unemployment was at 4.1%.
Some states that have been hit particularly hard (like Oklahoma, which saw an incredible 1,827% increase in its unemployment since the beginning of 2020) are still seeing a slow recovery in their unemployment rate. Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and New Hampshire have all lagged even as those states have eased some of their health restrictions.
Other states, such as Idaho, Rhode Island and Michigan have seen a more robust recovery in their unemployment rates, according to the survey from WalletHub. Those states have seen more hiring as health restrictions ease, allowing them to have a higher recovery rate that other states around them.
Calls for immediate financial relief for Americans to help them get through the pandemic were answered by Congress in the form of a $2.2 trillion-dollar stimulus package that included a $1,200 direct stimulus payment to many Americans, additional grants for small businesses and expanded unemployment payments. However, many experts, including Katrinell M. Davis, an associate Professor at Health Florida State University, found it lacking for most Americans.
"This relief was not even a band-aid for most Americans, " said Davis. "Too many people were left without any support due to exclusions that predominately impacted workers who earn the least and have the fewest income protections available to them.
"So, in the end, plenty of hardworking Americans, quarantined to protect their health and safety, are facing serious setbacks that will not be resolved by political speak and wishful thinking.
"If the government really cared about working Americans, the targeted effort would have emerged to support those excluded from stimulus payments like the parents behind on child support, people without social security numbers, and other workers who pay state taxes but are excluded from state support when it really counts," she added.
Davis says that consider that several rounds of support was extended to businesses, there were several missed opportunities by Congress to help shelter Americans from financial disaster brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Photo: WallletHub, Getty Images