While the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise at an alarming rate across the United States, the number of people gainfully employed is dwindling at an equally troubling rate.

According to the latest figures from the United States Bureau of Labor, ten different states now have less than half of their working-age population employed as this pandemic enters its fifth month.

Nevada has been the hardest hit, with an additional 19 percent out of work from a year ago, down to just 42 percent of the working-age population holding down a job statewide.

Other states with less than half of their populations working in May included Hawaii (45%), Michigan (46.8%), Florida (47.1%), Mississippi (47.2%), West Virginia (47.2%), California (49.6%), Louisiana (49.6%), New York (49.8%), and New Mexico (49.9%).

Not surprisingly, some of the hardest-hit states are the ones that rely the most on tourism dollars.

Across the country, some states have seen double-digit drops in their employment numbers from last May to this May, including Massachusetts (−13.3%), Michigan (−12.3%), New Hampshire (−12.2%, and Rhode Island (−11.4%).

COVID-19 Employment Map
U.S. Department of Labor

South Dakota, like the rest of the nation, has seen employment numbers go down, but not nearly at the same rate.

62.1 percent of working-age residents of the Mount Rushmore State had jobs in May of 2020, which is down nearly five percent from the previous May.

South Dakota is tied with Minnesota for the third-highest employment percentage, trailing midwestern neighbors Nebraska (67.1%) and North Dakota (62.5%). Iowa is fifth (61.4%).

The employment percentages for South Dakota have actually been trending down for a while now. Since reaching a high of 71.2 percent in May of 2007, the state has seen its percentage drop to less than 70 percent for each of the past 13 years.

The biggest drop from one year to the next before 2020 was a 2.1 percent reductiion from May of 2008 to May of 2009.


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