What Reopening? Unemployment Stays High Amid Claims Struggles

By: - August 17, 2020 12:00 am

An Elvis tribute artist waits in a mask before performing at the reopening of Bally’s Las Vegas hotel and casino in late July. States are still struggling to get jobless benefits into the hands of laid-off workers, especially in tourism-dependent states such as Nevada, Hawaii and Florida. John Locher/The Associated Press

Unemployment appears to be rising again in some states just as extra federal benefits expire with no clear replacement in sight.

The most recent official state-by-state unemployment rates are from June, but a Stateline analysis of Department of Labor data released last week and other federal statistics offers a glimpse of the current picture.

It suggests that even as some businesses reopen, unemployment is rising again in seven states (California, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico and Wyoming) and is basically unchanged in 22 others, plus the District of Columbia.

Nevada and Hawaii have the nation’s highest rate of workers getting unemployment benefits, about 23% for Nevada and 20% for Hawaii, according to the Stateline analysis.

Nevada’s official unemployment rate was as high as 28% in April, according to a state estimate, but dropped to 15% in June, according to the most recent estimate by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The national unemployment rate peaked at 14.7% in April. It fell to 10.2% in July, but that was about three times the rate of July 2019.

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Tim Henderson
Tim Henderson

Tim Henderson covers demographics for Stateline. He has been a reporter at the Miami Herald, the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Journal News.