While the country has recovered from its overall job loss due to the pandemic, a new report shows 31 states and the District of Columbia still have fewer jobs than in 2019.
Pew Stateline analyzed the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and reported that New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania lost the most jobs between February 2020 and last month. Florida, Texas and North Carolina won the most during the same period.
Pew found that New York state cut 327,800 jobs, with remote working hurting retail stores and other businesses that once catered to commuters. While the US has restored 25 million jobs lost during the pandemic, a state budget report last month revealed that New York may not see pre-pandemic employment levels until 2026.
According to Beacon Hill Staffing Group, a Boston-based staffing agency, New York’s hospitality market is slowly recovering as customers pack restaurants. But there are fewer restaurants than before the pandemic.
“The relocation of workers has certainly contributed to the labor shortage in some states,” John Tarbox, director of Beacon Hill Legal, told The Washington Times. “The ability to work remotely has allowed people to move to areas where the weather may have been better, where they could get bigger homes, and where the cost of living was generally cheaper.”
Ohio has 124,200 fewer jobs than before the pandemic, with Pew reporting that “thousands of manufacturing and hospitality jobs” have disappeared from the Midwest.
“There are nearly 100,000 fewer Ohio residents in the workforce compared to before the pandemic,” said Rea S. Hederman Jr., executive director of the Buckeye Institute’s Economic Research Center in Columbus. “This has made it difficult for some companies to fully recover their operations, and as a result they have shortened opening hours or closed some operations.”
After New York and Ohio, Pennsylvania lost the third most jobs in the nation. The Keystone State remains 111,300 jobs behind what it had in February 2020.
Company owner Michael Austin, former chief economic adviser to two Kansas governors, said strict lockdown policies prompted many workers to move from the Midwest and the Northeast to states with a lockdown light.
“A tragic pandemic experiment has created a gilded veneer of national job growth,” said Mr. Austin, an economist with Project 21 at the National Center for Public Policy Research. lockdowns down are now pulling the nation out of its economic doldrums.
The Pew Stateline report, released Wednesday, said the “job picture is brighter in parts of the South and West, where some states are benefiting from an influx of new residents.”
Texas leads the nation and has 563,900 more jobs than before the pandemic. After Texas, 371,900 jobs were created in Florida and 180,900 in North Carolina.
Jeremy T. Redfern, deputy press secretary to Florida governor Ron DeSantis, noted that Florida gained more jobs than New York lost in the Pew Stateline report.
“For the past two years, Governor DeSantis has focused on lifting people rather than incarcerating them,” Mr. Redfern said in an email. “Governor DeSantis protected working families and individual liberties while resisting calls from the media and experts to shut down businesses and keep kids out of school.”
Pew said the warehousing and transportation industry has added the most jobs as more Americans shopped online during the pandemic — making it the fastest-growing employer in 15 states.
The country added 714,000 transportation and warehousing jobs from February 2020 to last month, Pew Stateline found.
During the same period, the country lost 820,000 leisure and hospitality jobs. The loss of hotel and restaurant workers was the sharpest job drop for 20 states and the District of Columbia, Pew reported.
In Ohio, the report found 38,200 fewer leisure and hospitality jobs and 17,800 fewer manufacturing jobs than before the pandemic — but 37,300 more jobs in transportation and warehousing.
Daniel Lacalle, professor of global economics at IE Business School in Spain, expects some trends to continue even as the economy recovers.
“In most developed economies, we are seeing many jobs in small businesses and sectors such as construction and medium manufacturing being lost forever due to the shift in spending habits and increased inflation,” Mr Lacalle said in an email.
Analysts say most new jobs are worse than old ones, even in states that have recovered their numbers.
Major companies like Amazon and Walmart, exempted as “essential” from government shutdowns of most businesses during the pandemic, have added thousands of low-wage jobs as small businesses struggle with inflationary austerity.
“The trend appears to be a shift from productive jobs with wage and productivity growth to delivery of products produced outside the US,” said Sam Kain, a professor of finance at Walsh College in Michigan. “A massive transfer of wealth from producers to consumers will result in higher prices and shortages, as seen in empty shelves and massive inflation in fuel and groceries.”
As consumer prices remain high, Pew’s report found a correlation between population changes and job growth in most states.
From April 2020 to July 2021, U.S. Census Bureau estimates show that the Northeast lost nearly 450,000 people and the Midwest 144,000. During the same period, the south won nearly 960,000 and the west about 79,000.
Sean Higgins, a research associate at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute, said people are moving to where they can afford it.
“People are moving to places where the cost of living is cheaper and it’s warmer,” Mr Higgins said. “People have always tried to do that when they could, but it’s easier for them now.”