It has now been nearly a year since the first COVID-19 case was identified in the U.S., and while vaccine distribution has begun, it will still be months before the general public can receive it. The pandemic is still raging across the U.S., and some states have temporarily paused their reopening processes or even closed down some of the businesses that previously reopened. Unfortunately, this slowdown of reopening has had a negative impact on the job market, and the U.S. experienced more new unemployment claims last week than the previous week. Some places didn't follow the national trend, though, with claims lower than in 2019, including Kentucky and the District of Columbia.
There are currently 10.7 million Americans unemployed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in total. Last week, there were 965,000 new unemployment claims nationwide, compared to 6.9 million during the peak of the pandemic (an 86% reduction).
To identify which states’ workforces are experiencing the biggest increases in unemployment claims due to COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three metrics. Read on for the results, additional commentary from a panel of experts and a full description of our methodology.
States with Biggest Increases in Unemployment Claims
|State||Increased Most Since Last Week||Increased Most Since Start of COVID-19 Crisis|
|District of Columbia||38||20|
Rank 1 = Biggest Increase
|State||Change in Unemployment Claims (Latest Week vs. 2019)*||Change in Unemployment Claims (Latest Week vs. Start of 2020)**||Change in Unemployment Claims (Since Start of COVID-19 Crisis vs. Previous Year)***|
|District of Columbia||-0.97%||304.37%||795.45%|
*Refers to the change in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims in the week of January 4, 2021 compared to the week of January 7, 2019.
**Refers to the change in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims in the week of January 4, 2021 compared to the week of January 1, 2020.
***Refers to the change in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims between the weeks of March 16, 2020 to January 4, 2021 compared to the weeks of March 18, 2019 to January 6, 2020.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, St. Louis Federal Reserve.
Ask the Experts
Facing a pandemic is stressful enough by itself, but many Americans must deal with losing their employment on top of health concerns. To help guide Americans in this time of crisis, WalletHub turned to a panel of experts to provide some additional insight. Click on the experts below to view their bios and responses to the following key questions:
- What is your opinion on the $2.2 trillion emergency relief package that has been passed by Congress and signed by President Trump? Will this be sufficient to ensure full relief?
- What is your advice for people who don’t qualify for the stimulus payments?
- What do you think of insured unemployment as a measure for unemployment?
Ask the Experts
In order to identify which states have experienced the biggest increases in unemployment claims due to COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia based on changes in unemployment insurance initial claims for several key weeks. We then used those metrics to give two separate rankings to the states.
Our first ranking is based on the most recent data only, and uses the following metrics:
- Change in Number of Unemployment Insurance Initial Claims in Latest Week vs. 2019: Double Weight (~66.67 Points)
Note: This metric measures the change in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims in the week of January 4, 2021 compared to the week of January 7, 2019.
- Change in Number of Unemployment Insurance Initial Claims in Latest Week vs. Start of 2020: Full Weight (~33.33 Points)
Note: This metric measures the change in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims in the week of January 4, 2021 compared to the week of January 1, 2020.
The second ranking is based on cumulative data since the beginning of the pandemic:
- Change in Number of Unemployment Insurance Initial Claims Since Start of COVID-19 Crisis vs. Previous Year: Full Weight (~100.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the change in the number of unemployment insurance initial claims between the weeks of March 16, 2020 to January 4, 2021 compared to the weeks of March 18, 2019 to January 6, 2020.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor.