May state employment: At what cost?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released state-level employment data for May this morning. Looking over the last two months, where things stand since March, largest job losses are in Hawaii, Michigan, New York, and Nevada, all around 20%. There’s a big cluster of states that lost about 15% of their employment over the two months, including the Eastern states not listed above, and Kentucky. Clustered just above 10% are many large Western and Midwestern states, West Virginia, North Carolina, and New Mexico. Those down 10% and less include more of the Southern states, and the Plains and Mountain states. Smallest two-month declines were in Oklahoma and Utah, -6%, followed by Arkansas, Arizona, Idaho, Mississippi, and Nebraska, all -7%.

Our diffusions indexes, which were all 0 in April, except one case of construction hiring, rose to a broad 49 overall, with Leisure & Hospitality, 49, leading the way, followed by education and health, 47, trade/transport & construction, 46, and professional/business services 38. Government work was up in only 2 states, Wisconsin and New Mexico, and DC.

Looking at Leisure & Hospitality employment, only the District of Columbia and Hawaii added to April losses in May, now down 63% for the two months combined. In Oklahoma and Montana L&H work is down only 10% over the two months, and New York, -56%, Massachusetts, -52%, with Delaware & Michigan, 49%, close behind. The largest losses are heavily concentrated in the Northeast and Midwest, with L&H employment off between 40 and 63% in fifteen states. California, Oregon and Connecticut are at the bottom of that column, within striking distance of -40%.

Losses of, very roughly, 10%, in Oklahoma and Montana, to 35%, Maine, Ohio, Wisconsin, are concentrated in the Mid- and South-West, the mid-Atlantic, and the Southeast. Losses in the Plains states all round to about 20%, and in the Mountain West and across the Southwest generally to the high teens. In Utah, Idaho and Tennessee L&H losses total about -15%. None of this is surprising, and there does seem to be a relaxation between more lax state policies, for now. L&H work in Alaska is down 25%.

This is a noisy series with small samples. Largest declines in unemployment rates occurred in Mississippi & Kentucky, around -5.6 pps; in Indiana, Nevada & Arizona, around 5pps; in Vermont, Ohio, Alabama, and Tennessee, around -4pps. Unemployment rates rose in Minnesota, Connecticut & Florida, and lost less than 1 percentage point in Texas, Wyoming, New York, and Alaska.

We’d be more encouraged by all of this of 8 more states hadn’t crossed over the line into the “spreading quickly” red zone this morning in the tracker we sent around on Monday.