Economic Barometer

U.S. Unemployment Snapshot: As Claims Decrease, Recovery Continues

All 50 states showing positive growth in employment

New market research from the consumer finance site measures continuing positive trends in unemployment.

New unemployment claims decreased week-over-week on January 24, and were 96% below the peak during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To help add some context to these statistics, WalletHub just released updated rankings for the States Whose Unemployment Claims Are Recovering the Quickest, along with commentary from it analyst, Jill Gonzalez, on the prospect for Fed interest rate decisions.


Key Stats:

  • The good news is that every state had unemployment claims last week that were better than the same week last year.
  • 29 states had unemployment claims last week that were lower than before the pandemic except for Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Michigan, Hawaii, Ohio, Utah, Connecticut, West Virginia, California, Wyoming, Alaska, Georgia, Nevada, Texas, Minnesota, Colorado, North Carolina, Mississippi, Massachusetts, and D.C.
Most Recovered Last WeekLeast Recovered Last Week
1. Delaware42. Hawaii
2. Rhode Island43. Utah
3. New Hampshire44. West Virginia
4. Maryland45. Alabama
5. Arkansas46. Michigan
6. South Carolina47. California
7. Kansas48. Kentucky
8. South Dakota49. District of Columbia
9. Arizona50. Tennessee
10. Virginia51. Indiana

Unemployment & Economic Health

Wallethub analyst Jill Gonzalez answers questions on the factors impacting unemployment trends

How will low U.S. unemployment rates affect the Federal Reserve’s interest rate decision?

“The U.S. unemployment rate is now at 3.9 percent, which is very close to the pre-pandemic normal of 3.5 percent. These numbers give the Federal Reserve room to start withdrawing the economic support that was put in place at the start of Covid-19’s onslaught.Understandably, the Federal Reserve wants to begin raising interest rates this year to try to combat high inflation, and the current unemployment rate might make that possible. It makes sense for interest rates to get back to pre-pandemic normalcy, too.”

Will the omicron variant continue to hold back hiring in the U.S.?

“The omicron variant could delay unemployment decreases in the short term. However, 2022 will most likely be another year of job gains that might even surpass the pre-pandemic levels. The good news is that the omicron variant seems to be much less severe than the previous strains and should peak soon. If that’s the case, unemployment rates should start to drop even more in the coming months.”

How do red states and blue states compare when it comes to recovery?

“With an average rank of 24 among the most recovered states, blue states had a better recovery from unemployment claims last week than red states, which rank 28 on average. The lower the number of the ranking, the bigger the state’s recovery was.”

How has unemployment in California – the state with the most COVID-19 cases – recovered?

“California’s unemployment claims have experienced the 5th slowest recovery in the U.S. For the week of January 24, California .”,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst.