Where Employment Is Booming Post-Pandemic

Find out which states have thriving job markets post-pandemic.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

employment is booming

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, life as everyone knew it changed. Things like food shortages and job loss and business closures are still affecting folks around the world. But fortunately, the situation is starting to improve locally. In March, more than a dozen U.S states reached or exceeded their pre-pandemic employment levels. And along with these booming rates, more than a third have reported record-low unemployment rates.

These numbers show a clear picture of regionally driven recovery, with some of the most dramatic and sustained employment gains in several Rocky Mountain states. Speaking about the recovery, economist at Moody’s Analytics, Adam Kamins told CNN the Mountain West is leaps and bounds above the rest of the country. Jobs returned to pre-pandemic levels in Utah, Idaho, and Montana as of February 2020. These locations were leading the nation, with employment booming at 4.99%, 4.95%, and 3.25% in March.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says employment is also booming in Arizona and Colorado, with Nevada, Wyoming, and New Mexico following slightly behind, according to the labor statistics data. The South is doing well with job recovery too as Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Tennessee have seen a surge in job recovery. Other states that have made a full employment recovery are Indiana, Arkansas, and South Dakota.

According to CNN, the major reason for booming employment in these areas is an influx of new residents. The pandemic and the increasing shift toward remote work encouraged more people to migrate from overpopulated, expensive cities to more affordable regions of the country. As such, cities like Austin, Texas; Boise, Idaho; Bozeman, Montana, and Denver, Colorado have become locations of choice for coastal folks looking for cheaper housing and a change of pace.

But this is only part of the reason employment is booming. Factors like geographic makeup, major industries, weather, and environmental regulations also contribute to employment levels. And, as the pandemic dragged on, regional and local approaches to the health crisis played a role too, says lead economist with Oxford Economics Oren Klachkin. “In general, we’ve seen that the Midwest and the South have been hit relatively less severely [by the pandemic] and that’s due to how local officials responded to the shock,” he told CNN.

Meanwhile, cities on the West and East Coasts are still lagging in terms of their overall recovery. Most notably, New York and California implemented strict restrictions on people and businesses when the pandemic began. These measures negatively affected the tourism, leisure, and hospitality industries which places like New York and Los Angeles rely on heavily. Additionally, those restrictions were typically in place longer and applied more intermittently. This is why employment in those states is not booming.

Since states like Florida were more consistent in the way that they handled the pandemic in terms of economics, they were quicker to recover. Overall, the United States is 1.6 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic employment levels. That’s after adding 431,000 jobs in March when unemployment fell to a pandemic low of 3.6%. With employment booming, the labor market is on track to recover almost eight years faster than after the Great Recession.