The US Has Reversed Pandemic Job Losses. Most Individual States Haven’t.

By: - September 21, 2022 12:00 am

Employees work at the stow and picking area of the Amazon Robotic Sorting Fulfillment Center in Madison County, Miss. Transportation and warehousing jobs are the biggest drivers of employment growth in 15 states. Rogelio V. Solis/The Associated Press

In July, the U.S. economy regained the 25 million jobs it had lost in the pandemic. But in 31 states and the District of Columbia, employment still lags pre-pandemic levels.

New York state is down 327,800 jobs as of August, as remote work has battered shops and other businesses that once catered to commuters. The state might not see pre-pandemic employment levels until 2026, according to a budget report last month.

Midwestern states have lost thousands of manufacturing and hospitality jobs. Ohio has 124,200 fewer jobs than it did before the pandemic, while Pennsylvania (-111,300), Michigan (-96,000) and Illinois (-76,400) are not faring much better. The numbers, from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compare employment in February 2020 with the August job numbers, which were released Sept. 16.  

The jobs picture is brighter in parts of the South and West, where some states are benefitting from an influx of new residents. Texas has 563,900 more jobs than it did before the pandemic. Florida has added 371,900 jobs, and North Carolina (180,900), Georgia (158,100) and Utah (104,700) also have more jobs now than before the pandemic.

Even states that have fewer jobs than they did before the pandemic have benefited from job growth in transportation and warehousing, a sector boosted by Americans’ increasing propensity to shop online. Nationally, there are more than 714,000 additional transportation and warehousing jobs, and the industry was the fastest-growing employer in 15 states. 

“Some of the strongest job growth is coming from an industry in which job quality is pretty low, with the caveat that many of the missing jobs in leisure and hospitality are generally low-quality jobs as well,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, a labor market policy analyst at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, a nonprofit research group.

Leisure and hospitality jobs, in places such as hotels and restaurants, are still slumping in most states and are down by about 820,000 nationally. They represent the biggest drop in jobs for 20 states and the District of Columbia. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

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.