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America has been battered by job losses during the coronavirus pandemic, with some of the worst occurring in key swing states ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
Roughly 21% of workers in Michigan have applied for unemployment benefits over the past four weeks, while 19.8% filed jobless claims in Pennsylvania, according to data compiled by USA TODAY.
Nevada and Ohio, two other critical battleground states in 2020, stand at 19.3% and 14.6%, respectively.
More than 22 million people have applied for unemployment claims over the past month, or about 14% of the workforce, wiping out all of the job gains since the Great Recession.
Economists warn that unemployment benefits will likely remain elevated in the coming weeks as more Americans file for claims from layoffs and furloughs following processing difficulties.
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Employment of workers receiving hourly wages in the food and retail industries is currently down nearly 60% since January, according to Oxford Economics. Over that time, workers in these small businesses have lost about $1,400 in monthly income per person relative to January levels, the firm’s data showed.
Hawaii, known for its tourism industry, is among states getting hit the hardest, with 21.7% of its workforce applying for unemployment benefits over the past month.
Outside of the services sector, economists are monitoring goods-producing industries like manufacturing, construction and agriculture to see whether job losses could accelerate as struggling businesses await government aid.
“In the most affected states and services sectors, we are literally running out of jobs to terminate,” Daniel Alpert, co-creator of the U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index, said in a note. “Next week, if funds are still not moving to employers, will see a spike in claims by white-collar service employees.”
In bigger states, New York, the epicenter of the virus in the U.S., had nearly 1.2 million people file for jobless insurance the past month, representing 12.4% of its workforce. California had the most claims at 2.8 million.
Rhode Island, meanwhile, had some of the highest percentage of claims in the country at 20.6%. South Dakota had the smallest percentage at 4.9%.
Wyoming was among states with the fewest claims over the past four weeks at 21,496, or 7.3% of workers filing for benefits. In Florida, just 653,975 claims were filed over that span, representing 6.2% of its workforce. To be sure, some residents in the state have complained of difficulty collecting unemployment benefits. Texas has accepted 1 million claims, or 7.1% of its workforce.
USA TODAY compiled the number of jobless benefits filed in each state for the four weeks ending March 21, March 28, April 4 and April 11. Those figures are from the Department of Labor and are not seasonally adjusted.
The data is charted against the number of people in the workforces of each state, as of February 2020, the latest figures available. Those numbers are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are not seasonally adjusted
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