Despite Covid-19-induced lockdown measures not having been renewed in recent months, the effect of the pandemic on the U.S. economy is still lingering. As of November, only four states had reached pre-pandemic levels of employment.
All four—Utah, Idaho, Texas and Arizona—have experienced population growth during the pandemic, in part explaining their quick recovery. According to The Wall Street Journal, lower cost of living and fewer coronavirus restrictions attracted companies and workers alike.
This chart shows the change in nonfarm payrolls between February 2020 and November 2021, by state.
According to the report, only a third of U.S. states is expected to reach pre-pandemic payroll numbers by mid-2022. Examining the number of nonfarm payrolls published by the St. Louis Fed, these could be more states across the West and South that have the ability to attract employers as well as employees with the promise of a cheaper and less regulated environment.
Growing states succeed
According to the latest Census data, population growth during the pandemic also persisted in Montana, South Dakota, Georgia, Florida and the Carolinas, among others. All these states were already coming within reach of closing the Covid-19 employment gap in November. The only growing states with a persisting payroll gap were Maine, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Nevada.
States with bigger gaps to pre-pandemic employment were more likely to be located in the Northeast and Great Lakes regions, while California and Hawaii – both states suffering high population loss – were also among them.
Hawaii, where the blow Covid-19 dealt to tourism was acutely felt, still had the biggest employment gap. Nonfarm payroll numbers were 14% lower in November compared to February of 2020. Next up was New York, where an negative 8% gap persisted, followed by 6% gaps in Alaska, Louisiana, Vermont and Washington state. For the U.S. overall, the Covid-19 employment gap stood at -2.3% in November.

Charted by Statista

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