These 5 states are showing early signs of a job market recovery

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The number of jobs lost due to the coronavirus shutdown continue to mount, with the latest weekly total of Americans applying for unemployment benefits coming in above 1.5 million, yet again.

The latest swath of applications brings the total amount of jobless claims to more than 44 million over the past three months, wiping out the 20 million jobs added over the last decade by a two-to-one margin.

But some states are beginning to show a recovery from the spike in unemployment applications as coronavirus lockdowns went into effect. A Yahoo Finance review of jobless claims data from the U.S. Department of Labor shows that Rhode Island, Montana, and Vermont have seen the strongest early signs of a bottoming out to a return to normal.

Comparing each state’s average weekly jobless claims totals over the past six weeks to the six weeks beginning in mid-March, which brought a record amount of unemployment applications, reveals that some states are stopping the bleeding faster than others. Comparing those first six weeks of pain to the latest six-week period shows that Rhode Island, Vermont, Montana, Michigan and Pennsylvania have all seen their average weekly initial jobless claims number fall by 75% or more. While each state is still averaging more unemployment applications compared to weeks before the coronavirus pandemic rattled the employment picture in the U.S., the data shows a trend of unemployment applications relatively slowing.

Idaho, Ohio, Utah, West Virginia, and Nevada round out the top 10 states showing the largest drop in average weekly unemployment claims.

To be sure, even these states have a long ways to go to return to normal. Michigan, for example, shows the fourth most optimistic trend in slowing job losses, but after weeks of continued unemployment applications it has still racked up the country’s third highest insured unemployment rate in the country at 21.7%. That is to say, while the most recent job destruction might be getting less steep, the mountain it has to climb is still rather large.

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