The U.S. economy is beginning to recover as states cautiously loosen their coronavirus restrictions, allowing many people to go back to work after several months of unemployment.
A study by WalletHub published Thursday compared the number of unemployment claims filed in each state and the District of Columbia to determine which were recovering the fastest. Oregon topped the list for the states that recovered the most since the previous week and was ranked second out of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in recovery since the pandemic began.
Since the start of the pandemic, Connecticut has seen the most unemployment claim recovery, followed by Oregon, New Jersey, Vermont, and Arkansas. The top 5 states who recovered the most since the previous week are Oregon, Rhode Island, Wyoming, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. (RELATED: Atlanta Mayor Admits Georgia Reopening Was ‘Not As Bad As I Thought That It Would Be’)
Georgia is struggling the most with economic recovery. Despite being one of the first states to start reopening in April, Georgia is ranked 51 in overall economic recovery and 50 in recovery since last week. Kentucky, Oklahoma, New Hampshire, and Florida join Georgia to make up the 5 states that have recovered the least since the pandemic essentially started. Alaska, Florida, Virginia, Georgia, and Louisiana were the 5 states that saw the least economic recovery since last week.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp announced that Georgia was lifting coronavirus restrictions beginning April 24, a move that President Donald Trump said at one time was “too soon.” A week later, Georgia’s businesses were beginning to come back to life, with data showing increases in the number of people visiting salons, gyms, and restaurants.
Regardless, the state still struggled to get its economy back on track. Politico called Georgia a “reopening reality check,” reporting May 21 that jobs weren’t “flooding back” and that data still showed steady unemployment claims in the state.
Some states paused reopening efforts after new outbreaks were reported.
Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown announced June 11 that the state was pausing reopening for 7 days after a spike in new cases.
“Think of it as a statewide ‘yellow light,'” Brown said in a tweet.
This one-week pause will give public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus. I will use the data we see in the next week to determine whether to lift this pause or extend it.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) June 12, 2020
“This one-week pause will give public health experts time to assess what factors are driving the spread of the virus,” she added. “I will use the data we see in the next week to determine whether to lift this pause or extend it.”
Brown announced June 30 that she was extending Oregon’s COVID-19 state of emergency for 60 days.
Today, I extended the COVID-19 state of emergency for 60 days. The choices we make will determine if Oregon flattens the curve of new COVID-19 infections, or sees a devastating spike in cases that overwhelms our hospital capacity next month. What happens next is up to all of us.
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) June 30, 2020
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbot also announced late last month that his state was pausing reopening. Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations had surged since reopening, the governor said. “The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses.”
Texas is ranked 23rd in recovery since the start of the pandemic, but dropped down to 46 when looking at recovery since last week, the study found.
WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez said in a press release that pausing reopening would likely not lead to a surge of new unemployment claims unless businesses are closed back down. However, she noted, “we will likely see a slowdown in job growth because people who are temporarily laid off in certain non-essential sectors will have to wait longer to get back to work.”
The U.S. added 4.8 million jobs in the previous month and unemployment claims are down 81% from their peak, according to the WalletHub report.
Many people who lost their jobs due to the pandemic found that they were able to return to work once their states reopened the economy. However, there are still 17.8 million Americans who remain unemployed due to the pandemic.
Coronavirus has eliminated all the new jobs gained since the great recession, the WalletHub study found.
The unemployment-claims recovery in Democratic states is doing better than the recovery in Republican states, data showed. The average ranking for Blue states was 24.9 out of 51, and Red states averaged 26.77 out of 51.
Gonzalez said that most job losses from the pandemic are not permanent. A job report from May showed that 15.3 million people were on a temporary layoff compared to 2.9 million who suffered a permanent job loss, she noted.
“Most jobless Americans expect to be rehired by their former employers, but exactly how soon that can happen will depend on both how quickly states are able to reopen and how safe the government and businesses can make customers feel,” Gonzalez added. “For example, mandatory COVID-19 testing before entering an airport could significantly alleviate people’s concerns about flying again.”