Job Loss Variation

We’ve all seen the headlines about the effect that stay home orders have had on the US labor market. The headlines focus mostly on the weekly unemployment claims. Back in April it was week after week of unprecedented unemployment claims. During June it was week after week of unprecedented increases in employment. As is so often the case, the story is more complicated than the headlines.

In the charts below, we present a more detailed look at the data. We start by utilizing the monthly Current Establishment Survey data which is widely considered a more reliable indicator of actual employment changes. The chart below shows a comparison of the number of jobs lost according to the two different sources.

As the chart shows, both sources show the rapid decline in jobs in April 2020 followed by some recovery. While similar, it is important to note that the current employment survey shows a more rapid decline in jobs followed by a quicker recovery. The numbers from the this survey often get overlooked in the media because they are released several weeks later than the weekly unemployment claims reports. In addition to providing a more accurate picture of the US jobs picture, the current employment survey also provides industry level detail that is not present in the weekly unemployment claims.

Below are two charts that allow you to explore this additional layer of detail. The map on the right shows the percent change in jobs by state with brighter red states experiencing higher job losses. The chart on the right provides a view of those same job losses by industry. The dark blue line shows the overall percent change at the national level and each gray line is a state.

You can interact with the charts in two ways. First, clicking on a state in the map will highlight that state in red on the industry level chart. Clicking on an industry in the chart on the right will display the percent change for that industry on the map.

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