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The job market recovery is faltering in these states where coronavirus cases are rising again

Zack Guzman
Senior Writer

The number of jobs lost due to the coronavirus shutdown continue to mount, with the latest weekly total of Americans applying for unemployment benefits coming in at more than 1.3 million, yet again.

The latest swath of applications brings the total amount of jobless claims to nearly 50 million over the past four months, wiping out the 20 million jobs added over the last decade by a more than two-to-one margin.

Read more: Coronavirus: How to find a job in a tough economy

While some states have seen unemployment applications plummet from record highs after the coronavirus pandemic roiled America’s employment picture, some have suffered stubbornly high job losses months into the recovery. A Yahoo Finance review of the latest jobless claims data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that states that are seeing the most worrying rises in coronavirus cases are also now showing a worrying shakiness on their return to normal and a bottoming out in job losses.

Comparing each state’s average weekly jobless claims totals over the past eight weeks to the eight weeks beginning March 14, which brought a record amount of unemployment applications, reveals that Texas, Florida, California and Arizona all saw their job market recoveries weaken. Contrasting those first eight weeks of pain to the latest eight-week period shows that the change in unemployment claims is getting worse relative to our analysis from last week’s unemployment data.

Texas, for example, saw its initial unemployment claims drop 59% over the periods observed last week, but only shows a drop of 56% in this week’s analysis. The state also reported the largest week-over-week jump in initial jobless claims at 117,244 total claims, up from 96,593 last week.

The trend was similar in Florida, Arizona and California, which similarly showed a worsening of about 3 percentage points in comparing the reduction of unemployment claims in the last eight weeks of the crisis to the first eight weeks. States on the other side of the spectrum, like Maine, show a noticeable drop in unemployment claims as their economies reopened. Maine has seen unemployment claims drop more than 77% in the first eight weeks of the pandemic versus the last eight weeks.

Overall, this weeks update seems to support the notion that the states showing the most dampened recoveries also mostly match with those suffering recent and notable spikes in coronavirus cases. The South, Mississippi, Florida, and Georgia have all suffered rising case counts, with confirmed cases jumping more than 50% over the last two weeks of June. That observation would seem to support what Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stressed in his opening testimony in front of the House Financial Services Committee last week.

“The path forward for the economy remains extraordinarily uncertain and will depend in large part on our success in containing the virus,” he said Tuesday. “A full recovery is unlikely to occur until people are confident it’s safe to engage in a broad range of activities.”