Last month I asked if travel was back. Air travel has recovered a lot from the depths of the pandemic, but it was still only about 80-85% of pre-pandemic levels.
Labor markets also plummeted during the worst of the pandemic, and have slowly (and sometimes quickly) clawing their way back. But are we back to pre-pandemic levels?
The national unemployment rate is now under 4%, a level which is rarely reached even in the best of times. But there is considerable variation across states.
The latest BLS release of state unemployment data shows that some states are at their historic lows, with one state standing out: Nebraska currently has the lowest unemployment rate a state has ever recorded at 1.7% in December 2021 (the data go back to 1976). Utah is also just below 2% in December — at 1.9% it’s the 2nd lowest in history (after Nebraska, of course).
Of course, all is not well everywhere. California and Nevada have the highest unemployment rates, at around 6.5%. This is well above their pre-pandemic levels of about 4%, and also well above what you would expect during normal times, other than during and immediately following at recession.
So is the labor market back in Nebraska, Utah, and other similar states? Not so fast.Continue reading