Market Employment Summary

The Market Employment Summary for May 2021

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Published On: May 26, 2021

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its May 21st State Employment and Unemployment recap. The data revealed a very small reduction (0.1%) in the unemployment rate across the country. A quarter of the states (plus Washington, D.C.) saw a small decrease, while the remaining three-quarters of states remained stable. In total, a little over half of all states had a lower unemployment rate than the rest of the country (6.1%). In this blog post, we break down the market employment summary by state and county level to show employment trends across markets and sectors.

States With the Highest Unemployment Rates

Hawaii remains the state with the highest unemployment rate at 8.5%. Even though Hawaii remains at the top of the list for its unemployment rate, it is seeing a month-to-month improvement of 0.6%. Hawaii’s economy took a severe hit during the pandemic, but it's now seeing a gradual improvement due to travel resuming and businesses reopening. Following Hawaii, California comes in second place with an unemployment rate of 8.3%. California overtook New York last month, although New York isn't far behind with an unemployment rate of 8.2%, tied with New Mexico.

Counties With the Highest Unemployment Rates

At the county level, Kusilvak county in Alaska had the highest unemployment rate with 20%. Luna county in New Mexico came in second place at 18.5% and Starr county in Texas at 18.4%.

Among counties with more than 50,000 employed residents, Imperial county in California has the highest unemployment rate at 15.7%. Also, the Bronx in New York City had the highest unemployment rate at 15.3%, among counties with at least 500,000 employed residents.

States and Counties With the Lowest Unemployment Rates

For states with the lowest unemployment rates, there was a four way tie between Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Dakota and Utah—at 2.8% each. The top 6 counties with the lowest unemployment rate are in less populated areas of Nebraska, with less than 5,000 employed residents across all 6 counties. Among counties with more than 50,000 employed residents, Shelby County in Alabama has the lowest unemployment rate at 2%.

While Salt Lake County in Utah reported the lowest unemployment at 3% rate among counties with more than 500,000 employed residents.

States With New Job Gains

As for new job gains relative to the number of existing jobs, Hawaii tops the list at 1.8%. This shows positive movement and the obstacles that Hawaii is still experiencing from the pandemic.

For raw job gains figures, California showed the biggest improvement with over 100,000 new jobs added last month. This is three times more than New York, which has the second most new jobs. Also, California's job gain is even times more than Colorado, which added the third most jobs last month.

Mployer Advisor's Take

Looking for more exclusive content? Click here to learn five ways employee benefits plans can help retain diverse talent. While this labor report still leaves plenty of room for improvement, it is nonetheless another step in the right direction. With gains nationwide, there is good reason to expect continued progress and recovery in the coming months. If you would like more specific market summary data, click here to learn more about Mployer Advisor's monthly Market Employment Summary report.

Market Employment Summary



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Abbey Dean

Director of Content, Mployer Advisor


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