Unemployment rates in 43 states set record highs last month as the coronavirus pandemic forced nonessential businesses to close across the nation, according to federal data released Friday.
Rates rose in every state and the District of Columbia, compared to March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Similarly, the national unemployment rate soared to 14.7% last month, compared to 4.4% in March and a near 50-year low of 3.5% in February, before the outbreak hit the United States.
Nevada, which was slammed by the shuttering of its extensive casino and tourism industries, had the nation’s highest unemployment rate. It skyrocketed to 28.2% last month, up from 6.9% in March and 3.6% in February.
“Nevada is facing record high unemployment and the sheet numbers are difficult to comprehend,” said Gov. Steve Sisolak, who allowed certain businesses to reopen earlier this month but kept casinos closed for now.
Michigan and Hawaii had the next highest unemployment rates, at 22.7% and 22.3%, respectively.
Data collection problems
The state report, however, was marred by data collection and misclassification issues that affected all states to some degree, the agency said. The response rate was lower than usual because the Census Bureau did not conduct in-person interviews in April, and two call centers were closed because of the pandemic.
Also, a Bureau of Labor Statistics analysis suggests that several million of the 11.5 million people listed as employed, but not at work, should have been considered “unemployed on temporary layoff,” which would have increased the national unemployment rate and those for the states.
The problem prompted Connecticut, which was listed as having the lowest unemployment rate at 7.9%, to include a prominent note in its press release that said the federal data must be considered “inaccurate” and “severely underestimated.” Instead, the state estimates its true unemployment rate to be around 17.5%.