Economists' Outlook

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State Employment Monitor: Job Growth in 41 States in September 2020 But Still Below Pre-Pandemic Levels

Employment and income are key factors affecting the demand for and supply of residential and commercial real estate. As of September, 41 states had job gains but employment has not recovered to pre-pandemic levels (February 2020) in all states. Unemployment rates declined in 39 states in September compared to August 2020.

41 states had job gains in September

Non-farm employment (seasonally adjusted basis) increased in September compared to the levels in August in 41 states.  Five of the top 10 job gainers were Northeast Region states, with job growth catching up after a longer economic shutdown. The top 10 job gainers New Jersey (1.6%), New York (1.3%), Wyoming (1.3%), Alaska (1.2%), South Carolina (1.2%), South Dakota (1.2%), North Carolina (1.1%), Massachusetts (1.1%), Connecticut (1.1%), and Vermont (1.0%).  Nationally, nonfarm payroll employment rose 0.5%.

Scroll through the tabs to view which states are showing job growth by industry (you can also download and save as pdf or in PowerPoint).

47 states had jobs gains in leisure and hospitality

Except for Nevada, North Dakota, and Louisiana, all states posted job gains in the leisure and hospitality sector.   The Northeast states of Vermont (12.1%), New Hampshire (8.4%), and New York (6.8%) posted the strongest job gains. 

33 states had job gains in retail trade

There’s a more uneven recovery in retail trade, with 33 strong states and the District of Columbia registering positive job growth, with the strongest growth in Alaska (3.6%) and Vermont (2.5%), Montana (2.1%), California (1.8%), Maryland (1.8%), New Jersey (1.7%), and Massachusetts (1.7%).  

29 states had job gains in real estate, rental, and leasing

While the housing market is roaring, with the annualized existing home sales hitting 6.54 million in September, net non-farm payroll jobs rose in September in only 29 states, with the strongest growth in Alaska (6%), Louisiana (5.4%), Wisconsin (5.4%), Minnesota (4.7%), and Montana (5.2%).  

32 states had job gains in construction

The strongest job gains were in the Northeast states of Vermont (4.7%), New Hampshire (3.8%) and Louisiana (4.1%).

37 states had job gains in professional and business services

The recovery of jobs in professional and business services is critical to the demand for office space. The strongest job gains were in Nevada  (2.9%) and New Mexico (2.6%).

11.4 million jobs created from May-September, 10.7 million more to recover

Since May and through September 2020, 11.4 million non-farm payroll jobs have been created, and 56% of these jobs are in leisure and hospitality and retail trade.  However, 10.7 million jobs still need to be recovered relative to the pre-pandemic level in February 2020, and 40% of these jobs are also in leisure and hospitality and retail trade.  The other industries with over a million jobs to recover are health and educational services (health care, social assistance, education) and professional and business services.

Non-farm employment levels remain below last year’s levels in all states.

The states with the largest employment shortfall are Hawaii (-18.4%), New York (-11.2%) , Vermont (-9.6%), Massachusetts (-9.5%), and Alaska (-9.2%).

The states that have the lowest employment shortfall compared to year-ago levels are Idaho (-0.7%), Utah (-1%), Mississippi (-2.2%), Nebraska (-2.5%), and South Dakota (-2.9%).

Unemployment rates declined in 39 states in September vs. August

With more jobs, the unemployment rate declined in 39 states in September 2020 compared to the rates in August. The states with the lowest unemployment rates of no more than 5% are Nebraska (3.5%), South Dakota (4.1%), Vermont (4.2%), North Dakota (4.4%), Iowa (4.7%), and Missouri (4.9%). 

The highest double-digit unemployment rates are in Hawaii (15%), Nevada (12.6%), California (11%), and Illinois (10.2%).

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