America’s job market hasn’t fully recovered yet. But some states are already back to normal.
In November, Texas and Arizona joined Utah and Idaho in recouping all their pandemic job losses, according to a report by ratings agency Fitch.
In comparison, California and New York were at only 70% and 60% of their pre-pandemic employment levels, respectively.
This highlights just how uneven the recovery has been. States that were more affected by the waves of the pandemic and had tighter restrictions to fight the outbreak are lagging behind in recovering from their Covid job losses.
After record job losses at the start of the pandemic, nearly all states have recovered at least half of those lost jobs, with the exception of Hawaii and Wyoming, according to Fitch.
States like Hawaii, which relies on tourism, are still hamstrung by the pandemic. Meanwhile, New York has a more diversified economy but was an epicenter of the outbreak right at the start of the health crisis, which is leaving marks.
Overall, the US economy added 249,000 jobs in November — a disappointing number compared with forecasts. But the jobs report that month still showed signs of the recovery moving ahead, including a falling unemployment rate and a slightly higher labor force participation rate.
The key factor about November, however, was that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus hadn’t weighed on the recovery yet. Covid cases rose again around year-end due to the highly infectious variant, leading businesses to struggle with a sick workforce.
“Recovery trends, boosted by in-person education and greater return to in-person work, may be threatened by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus, whose economic implications remain uncertain,” said Olu Sonola, head of US Regional Economics at Fitch.
Both remote schooling and working increased again in January as businesses and school districts reacted to the new outbreak, according to Fitch.
CNN Business’ Back-to-Normal Index, created with Moody’s Analytics, stood at 91% as of last week. Only South Dakota was more than 100% recovered, though a few states, including Idaho, Arizona, Florida and Montana are getting close.