First Half of 2021 Indicates Continued Labor Market Recovery

Food service worker wearing a mask and face shield while holding a tray of food

The 12th District labor markets continued to recover from early-pandemic job losses in the first half of 2021 as vaccination rates increased and parts of the economy reopened. The Mountain West, in particular, experienced a stronger recovery relative to other parts of the District and United States as a whole, highlighting that labor market dynamics are uneven across different states and regions.

Pace of hiring

The pace of hiring in the District jumped to 7.4% in June from 5.8% in May, echoing the nationwide hiring acceleration in June. Likewise, the District’s unemployment rate declined to 6.8% in June. State-level unemployment rates in the District have been stable to declining in recent months.

Figure 1
Nonfarm Payrolls & Unemployment

  Nation Nevada Hawai’i California Arizona Alaska Oregon Washington Idaho Utah
Payrolls June 2021 vs. February 2020 -4.4% -7.4% -14.1% -7.0% -1.5% -8.4% -5.9% -3.9% 2.1% 1.7%
Unemployment rate June 2021 5.9% 7.8% 7.7% 7.7% 6.8% 6.6% 5.6% 5.2% 3.0% 2.7%
Job recovery and unemployment rates varied widely across the 12th District’s western states.

Leisure and hospitality

Hiring in the first half was mostly driven by gains in the leisure and hospitality and “other services” sectors. The other services category comprises personal, repair, and other services that were hit hard in the pandemic.

As an example of the District’s leisure and hospitality gains, Hawai’i and Nevada have posted among the fastest rates of job growth in the District in recent months. Despite the positive numbers, these tourism-dependent states are still feeling the impact of the pandemic and related travel restrictions, as demonstrated in their unemployment rates (Figure 1).

By late May, the District has vaccinated 53% of the population, but the pace of vaccinations has slowed in recent months. Nevertheless, consumer confidence and travel have increased dramatically as businesses open and restrictions are lifted. Small business sentiment is also improving.

View the First Glance 12L report for 2021’s first quarter: Waning Case Counts and Fiscal Stimulus Fueled Growth

Photo credit: vichie81 via iStock

You may also be interested in:

The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the management of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco or of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.