Pandemic job losses hit tourism-dependent states hardest

Chairs are spaced out for social distancing at a temporary coronavirus testing facility for casino employees at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Chairs are spaced out for social distancing at a temporary coronavirus testing facility for casino employees at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HONOLULU – The coronavirus pandemic has been particularly brutal to the tourism-dependent economies of Nevada and Hawaii, lifting the unemployment rate in both states to about one-quarter of the workforce.

Nevada topped the nation with an April unemployment rate of 28.2%, the worst any state has seen since the national jobless rate was estimated at 25% in 1933 during the depths of the Great Depression, state officials said Friday.

“They are sobering numbers, far in excess of anything we have experienced as a state before now,” said David Schmidt, chief economist for the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation.

Michigan came in second with 22.7% and Hawaii third with 22.3% In Michigan, job losses were spread across all sectors, with especially large losses in hospitality and manufacturing.

Nationally, the job market and the economy have fallen into their worst crisis in decades. More than 2.4 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the viral outbreak that triggered widespread business shutdowns two months ago.

All told, nearly 39 million people have filed for jobless aid since the coronavirus forced millions of businesses to close their doors and shrink their workforces. The stream of layoffs reflects an economy gripped by the deepest recession since the Great Depression. The national jobless rate stood at 14.7%

In Nevada, both casinos and other non-essential businesses have been closed since mid-March.

In Hawaii, most hotels shut down in late March as the state began requiring all travelers arriving in the state to observe 14 days of quarantine. Restaurants switched to take-out only and retailers closed their doors to comply with social distancing requirements imposed to curb the spread of the virus.