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Data: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

State economies most exposed to industries that have been slow to bounce back from the pandemic shutdown — like tourism — are seeing the worst labor market pain.

Why it matters: Even states that have the coronavirus more under control than others are taking harder economic hits, thanks to their dependence on sectors slammed by the pandemic.

One example: Hawaii’s unemployment rate, which fell 0.7 percentage points in October, is still more than double the nationwide rate, new Department of Labor data show.

  • More than 91,000 people are out of work in the state — over 5 times more than the 17,000 who were out of work before the pandemic hit.
  • Employment in the leisure and hospitality sector is down 50% from this time last year.

The other side: In places like Nebraska and South Dakota, which have emerged as coronavirus hotspots, the unemployment rate is lower now than before the pandemic hit.

  • Unemployment rates in these states peaked at lower levels than the national rate. Government officials there were less aggressive about imposing economic restrictions.

Yes, but: Vermont, whose unemployment rate peaked at a level close to the nationwide peak, enacted strict economic restrictions and a mask mandate. Its unemployment rate is among the lowest in the country.

  • The makeup of their rural economies mean “more of the people work in industries that wouldn’t really be disrupted by a need for social distancing like agriculture,” Eric Thompson, a professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, told AP earlier this month.

The big picture: The unemployment rate fell in 37 states and the District of Columbia. It rose in eight states, and held steady in five.

The bottom line: States like Hawaii had some of the lowest unemployment rates in the country when the pandemic hit.

  • Unemployment rates are largely improving, but it could be some time before their labor market bounces back the way it has in other states.

Go deeper

Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Joe Biden's COVID-19 bubble

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The incoming administration is planning extraordinary steps to protect its most prized commodity, Joe Biden, including requiring daily employee COVID tests and N95 masks at all times, according to new guidance sent to some incoming employees Tuesday.

Why it matters: The president-elect is 78 years old and therefore a high risk for the virus and its worst effects, despite having received the vaccine. While President Trump's team was nonchalant about COVID protocols — leading to several super-spreader episodes — the new rules will apply to all White House aides in "high proximity to principals."

Dave Lawler, author of World
Jan 19, 2021 - World

Biden will bring U.S. into COVAX vaccine initiative, Blinken says

Data: Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Secretary of State designate Tony Blinken announced in a confirmation hearing on Tuesday that President-elect Biden would bring the U.S. into the COVAX initiative — the global effort from the World Health Organization and other groups to ensure that every country has access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Why it matters: Virtually the entire world has signed onto COVAX, apart from the U.S. and Russia. It's expected to be the only source of vaccines for some of the world's poorest countries, and it needs additional funding to fulfill its goal of vaccinating at least 20% of the population in every country by the end of 2021.

Jan 19, 2021 - Health

Fauci: U.S. could achieve herd immunity by fall if vaccine rollout goes to plan

NIAID director Anthony Fauci. Photo: Patrick Semansky-Pool/Getty Images

Infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Tuesday that if the coronavirus vaccine rollout by the incoming Biden administration goes as planned, the U.S. could start to see effects of herd immunity and normalcy by early-to-mid fall.

What he's saying: "If we [vaccinate] efficiently in April, May, June, July, August, we should have that degree of protection that could get us back to some form of normality. ... But we've also got to do it on a global scale," he said at a Harvard Business Review virtual event.