They’re the three hardest-hit states in the nation, yet their employment landscapes have been rocked in unique ways.
The restrictions aimed at slowing coronavirus’ spread weighed heavily on Kentucky’s manufacturing-centric economy, which accounts for 12.9% of the state’s total non-farm employment, said Michael Clark, the associate director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Kentucky.
“Those are jobs that are harder to work remotely, maybe simply impossible to work remotely,” Clark told CNN Business. “They’re going to be subject to greater job losses during these times of restrictions.”
When large outfits like that close, it typically ripples through the manufacturing chain, affecting smaller suppliers, he said.
Clark was quick to offer a caveat to the sizable data, noting that the many among the 33% that filed initial unemployment claims aren’t permanently jobless.
“It’s not necessarily that all these jobs are gone,” he said.
“Twenty-six percent of jobs and close to 20% of GDP is directly attributed to tourism,” Carl Bonham, economics professor and executive director of the University of Hawaii Economic Research Organization said in an interview with CNN Business. “And so we’re going to be hit really hard simply because of that.”
In Hawaii, 210,429 people filed initial claims for unemployment benefits during the past seven weeks, representing 31.5% of its March labor force, according to Department of Labor data.
Despite a large federal government presence, which accounts for 20% of the economy and is a “stabilizing force,” the Aloha State is heavily service-oriented even beyond tourism, he said.
As such, Hawaii is expecting a slow climb out unless there’s a way to help people retain confidence in travel, he said, adding that
“We’re, in many ways, at the mercy of policy decisions that we don’t have much control over,” he said. “If we had a national policy and a national effort to manufacture enough tests so that we could test all the visitors, that would change things dramatically.”
He continued: “In the meantime, we have to build a system locally to manage the risk and balance the risk of infections.”
Nearly 1.6 million Georgians have filed for unemployment benefits over the past seven weeks, accounting for 31.1% of the state’s March labor force, according to Labor Department data.
Unlike Kentucky and Hawaii, the layoffs in Georgia appear to be more widespread across a variety of industries. In comments to the Department of Labor accompanying the report, the state of Georgia referenced increased layoffs in trade, educational services, information, administrative, waste management, transportation, warehousing and construction.
The sectors that accounted for the largest share of the claims included accommodation and food services and retail trade, according to the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“Georgia also started this with an historically low 3.1% unemployment rate, so these numbers also demonstrate why the state has been focused on getting Georgians back to work safely, and making sure that our businesses have access to supplies and personal protective equipment needed to give employees and customers protection and confidence,” according to a statement emailed to CNN Business from the Department of Economic Development.
— CNN Business’ Annalyn Kurtz contributed to this report.