Cities seeing the fastest unemployment recovery

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Cities in New England, the Mountain states and the Southeast are seeing the fastest unemployment recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, according to WalletHub research.

WalletHub compared 180 U.S. cities and changes in their unemployment numbers in May 2021 compared to May 2019, May 2020 and January 2020. The personal finance website also looked at each city's overall unemployment rate.

The top 10 states with the best unemployment recovery rates are:

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The 10 states with the slowest unemployment recovery (from bottom to top) are:

Linda Fisher Thornton, adjunct associate professor at the University of Richmond School of Professional and Continuing Studies, told WalletHub that "leaders" should "think long term as they develop and implement solutions, and assume that every industry will need to radically improve the way it works to adapt to the new reality" in order to improve unemployment rates.

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"Many experts believe that our lives won’t ever ‘return’ to pre-pandemic normal levels," she said. "As we handle new challenges daily we’re learning from experience and rethinking how we provide products and services. Many services have traditionally required people to wait in line to be served, but that model isn’t going to be considered ideal even when social distancing begins to ease."

Other experts echoed Fisher Thornton's sentiment, saying that because unemployment rates were at historic lows prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, getting back to those levels may take a very long time and require innovative work solutions.

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"Unfortunately, I think it will take the country quite a while to get back to the pre-crisis levels. There are a couple of reasons for this," Quinnipiac University associate professor of management Tuvana Rua said in a statement. "The first one is the fact that the country was at an all time low in terms of unemployment levels, which did not happen over night. Prior to reaching the all time low of 3.6% unemployment rate in January 2020, the civilian unemployment rate had been trending down since November 2009."

She continued: "If we were to compare what we are facing now as an economic crisis with the most recent financial crisis of 2008, we will see that it took us 10 years to return to pre-2008 financial crisis civilian unemployment rate of 4.7%. So that is some historical data that we can use as a reference."

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The number of Americans filing for first-time unemployment benefits last week fell to the lowest level since the start of COVID-19.

Data released Thursday by the Labor Department showed 364,000 Americans filed for first-time jobless benefits in the week ended June 26, down from an upwardly revised 415,000 filings the week prior. Analysts surveyed by Refinitiv expected a decline to 390,000 filings

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Continuing claims for the week ended June 19, meanwhile, unexpectedly rose to 3.469 million filings, up from the previous week’s upwardly revised 3.413 million. Analysts were expecting a decline to 3.382 million filings. 

The unexpected increase in continuing claims comes as many states continue to pay an additional $300 per week in supplemental benefits. At least 26 states, all with Republican governors, besides Louisiana, have announced plans to terminate the additional payments before they are scheduled to end in September.

FOX Business' Jonathan Garber contributed to this report.

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