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Where have all the jobs gone? A regional breakdown

US unemployment is falling after its rapid and sudden peak at 14.7%. It remains incredibly high at 13.3%, equating to 21 million unemployed people across the country. The good news is that vacancies on are up 8% week on week, as the country starts to ease out of lockdowns.

We wanted to take a look at the picture state-by-state to see what’s happened since the start of the year. 

Now vs. the start of the year

Despite the week-on-week increase in vacancies, the overall picture is that vacancies are down 35% since the beginning of the covid outbreak. There is a distinct difference across different states as you can see below.

At one end of the scale is Nevada, which has lost 64% of its vacancies since January 8th. Most states (31 out of 50) saw increases in vacancies up until the middle of February, but for Nevada, January 8th was the peak in vacancies and these figures have fallen since the beginning of the year. 

At the other end is Louisiana which has gained vacancies ever so slightly during this period, and is actually up 0.25%. But taking these two moments in time hides a lot of the story. Louisiana had a sharp increase in vacancies, with almost double the vacancies up to the beginning of March, before falling again. 

To further highlight the differences in behavior, we’ve plotted out below the differences between Louisiana,  Nevada, and a few other states that saw significant changes. 

Here you can see in detail the journey Louisiana has been on as it grew sharply, fell sharply, and is coming back stronger than a lot of places.

Changes in the last 4 weeks

From the map below, with lighter colours showing the states that are recovering their vacancy levels, and darker reds showing those that are declining, you can see that Louisiana has recovered the most from its trough. 

Nationwide, job vacancies have recovered 21.3% over this time. What appears to be the case is that the Midwest and South have seen greater job creation than the West and East Coast – generally speaking. Massachusetts has seen significant short term declines, but as we can see from the graph above, this appears to be reverting back to the mean, as it had experienced a large upswing in vacancies. 

Most states are seeing an uptick in vacancies overall, though there still seems to be a fair amount of fluctuation. This is to be expected given the volatility of the market and the circumstances surrounding coronavirus. 

If we were to forecast recovery, states which have opened up, or remained mostly open, are inevitably going to see quicker recovery in job numbers. If there’s a second wave of coronavirus in those locations, things could rapidly change. In states like New York which have issued more rigid guidelines, recovery will be a lot slower, but 13.5% growth in 4 weeks is encouraging.