A Tale of Two Sectors

The private sector added jobs in May almost everywhere in the United States. The public sector lost jobs, also almost everywhere.

Those two trends seem likely to persist in the months to come, as states continue to allow more businesses to reopen – and as state and local governments see tax revenues remain at depressed levels.

The first of those trends could be reversed if deaths from the COVID-19 virus begin to climb alarmingly – leading states to reverse opening policies or leading worried people to avoid taking risks even if allowed to do so.

The second trend is unlikely to change unless Congress decides to provide substantial subsidies to state and local governments – governments that, unlike the federal government, cannot print money and are often legally required to run balanced budgets.

The House of Representatives, controlled by Democrats, has passed a bill to send aid to state and local governments, but Senate Republicans have not seemed interested and Sen. Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, suggested it might be better if state governments were simply allowed to file for bankruptcy.

McConnell’s home state, Kentucky, saw state and local employment fall 4.9% in May from April, a larger decline than experienced in all but a handful of states. The figures are seasonally adjusted, and thus should ignore seasonal effects such as teachers leaving schools for the summer.
The state figures for May were released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two weeks after it put out national estimates. They are subject to revision as more data becomes available.

Here are state rankings in terms of change in jobs in May, ranked by the percent change in May but also showing the changes since February, before the virus led the widespread layoffs. Every state has fewer jobs in both categories than it did before the pandemic struck. The first table is for private sector jobs, the second for state and local government jobs.

For the private sector, the only state showing a decline in May was Hawaii, whose tourism industry was badly damaged. Michigan was among the best performing states in May, but remains among the worst since February.

Private Sector Jobs    
May Change   
   
Change Since February   
   
Vermont   
   
8.6%   
   
-18.6%   
   
Michigan   
   
6.8%   
   
-21.6%   
   
Montana   
   
5.7%   
   
-10.4%   
   
Idaho   
   
5.0%   
   
-7.6%   
   
South Carolina   
   
4.7%   
   
-11.3%   
   
Pennsylvania   
   
4.7%   
   
-16.5%   
   
Washington   
   
4.6%   
   
-14.2%   
   
Tennessee   
   
4.3%   
   
-10.6%   
   
Maine   
   
4.2%   
   
-15.0%   
   
Mississippi   
   
4.2%   
   
-8.7%   
   
Utah   
   
4.2%   
   
-6.5%   
   
Alaska   
   
4.1%   
   
-13.4%   
   
Colorado   
   
4.0%   
   
-10.7%   
   
Rhode Island   
   
3.9%   
   
-18.7%   
   
Indiana   
   
3.9%   
   
-11.8%   
   
Ohio   
   
3.8%   
   
-14.6%   
   
Alabama   
   
3.6%   
   
-9.4%   
   
West Virginia   
   
3.4%   
   
-12.3%   
   
Nevada   
   
3.3%   
   
-19.5%   
   
Wisconsin   
   
3.3%   
   
-13.5%   
   
New Jersey   
   
3.3%   
   
-19.6%   
   
Kentucky   
   
3.3%   
   
-16.3%   
   
North Carolina   
   
3.1%   
   
-12.6%   
   
Missouri   
   
3.0%   
   
-10.7%   
   
Texas   
   
3.0%   
   
-9.8%   
   
Arizona   
   
3.0%   
   
-8.4%   
   
Kansas   
   
2.8%   
   
-9.1%   
   
Louisiana   
   
2.7%   
   
-13.5%   
   
Florida   
   
2.7%   
   
-12.2%   
   
Arkansas   
   
2.7%   
   
-8.1%   
   
Georgia   
   
2.7%   
   
-10.7%   
   
Connecticut   
   
2.6%   
   
-16.1%   
   
Massachusetts   
   
2.5%   
   
-18.3%   
   
New Hampshire   
   
2.5%   
   
-16.2%   
   
Oklahoma   
   
2.3%   
   
-7.8%   
   
Oregon   
   
2.3%   
   
-13.2%   
   
New York   
   
2.1%   
   
-20.9%   
   
Iowa   
   
2.1%   
   
-10.5%   
   
Nebraska   
   
2.0%   
   
-8.2%   
   
South Dakota   
   
1.9%   
   
-8.0%   
   
California   
   
1.9%   
   
-15.3%   
   
Maryland   
   
1.8%   
   
-14.7%   
   
Wyoming   
   
1.8%   
   
-9.5%   
   
Illinois   
   
1.8%   
   
-12.8%   
   
Delaware   
   
1.8%   
   
-18.7%   
   
Virginia   
   
1.4%   
   
-11.0%   
   
Minnesota   
   
1.3%   
   
-13.1%   
   
North Dakota   
   
1.2%   
   
-9.9%   
   
New Mexico   
   
0.9%   
   
-13.8%   
   
Hawaii   
   
-0.8%   
   
-22.6%   

The May outlier for state and local government jobs was Wisconsin, which saw an increase. But that only partly offset a steep decline earlier in the Pandemic, which left it with one of the largest declines over that period. New Mexico also had a small increase in May.

The worst performer since the pandemic began was Hawaii, but the three worst in May, all of them losing at least 5% of their state and local government jobs, were North Carolina, Washington and Nebraska.

State and Local Jobs    
May Change   
   
Change Since February   
   
Wisconsin   
   
0.8%   
   
-13.8%   
   
New Mexico   
   
0.3%   
   
-3.6%   
   
Nevada   
   
-0.1%   
   
-6.4%   
   
Florida   
   
-0.3%   
   
-2.6%   
   
Rhode Island   
   
-0.6%   
   
-3.7%   
   
Pennsylvania   
   
-0.7%   
   
-4.3%   
   
Indiana   
   
-0.8%   
   
-6.5%   
   
New Hampshire   
   
-0.8%   
   
-11.8%   
   
Arizona   
   
-0.8%   
   
-4.1%   
   
New Jersey   
   
-1.0%   
   
-5.7%   
   
Tennessee   
   
-1.7%   
   
-5.2%   
   
Massachusetts   
   
-1.8%   
   
-8.5%   
   
Mississippi   
   
-1.8%   
   
-5.5%   
   
Oklahoma   
   
-1.8%   
   
-5.4%   
   
Louisiana   
   
-1.9%   
   
-5.2%   
   
Maryland   
   
-1.9%   
   
-6.0%   
   
South Carolina   
   
-2.0%   
   
-5.9%   
   
Vermont   
   
-2.2%   
   
-10.0%   
   
Delaware   
   
-2.2%   
   
-7.5%   
   
Georgia   
   
-2.2%   
   
-5.0%   
   
Connecticut   
   
-2.4%   
   
-13.5%   
   
Kansas   
   
-2.4%   
   
-5.7%   
   
Michigan   
   
-2.4%   
   
-8.9%   
   
Alaska   
   
-2.4%   
   
-12.5%   
   
West Virginia   
   
-2.5%   
   
-10.0%   
   
Arkansas   
   
-2.5%   
   
-6.0%   
   
Illinois   
   
-2.6%   
   
-7.9%   
   
Montana   
   
-2.7%   
   
-7.1%   
   
New York   
   
-2.9%   
   
-7.2%   
   
Colorado   
   
-3.0%   
   
-5.5%   
   
Texas   
   
-3.1%   
   
-5.3%   
   
North Dakota   
   
-3.2%   
   
-10.7%   
   
Hawaii   
   
-3.2%   
   
-15.6%   
   
Alabama   
   
-3.5%   
   
-5.4%   
   
Ohio   
   
-3.5%   
   
-9.3%   
   
Oregon   
   
-3.7%   
   
-8.7%   
   
Wyoming   
   
-3.7%   
   
-6.4%   
   
South Dakota   
   
-3.8%   
   
-12.4%   
   
Iowa   
   
-3.8%   
   
-12.8%   
   
Idaho   
   
-4.0%   
   
-8.8%   
   
Virginia   
   
-4.0%   
   
-8.8%   
   
California   
   
-4.2%   
   
-7.8%   
   
Missouri   
   
-4.2%   
   
-8.1%   
   
Utah   
   
-4.7%   
   
-8.6%   
   
Minnesota   
   
-4.8%   
   
-11.3%   
   
Kentucky   
   
-4.9%   
   
-10.5%   
   
Maine   
   
-4.9%   
   
-11.5%   
   
Nebraska   
   
-5.0%   
   
-8.7%   
   
Washington   
   
-5.2%   
   
-10.5%   
   
North Carolina   
   
-5.6%   
   
-9.4%