— Steve’s Marketplace —
Editor’s note: Contributing columnist, Steve Nicklas, expresses his views and insight on various topics in Marketplace.
Despite a national race to reopen their economies, some states have adopted a slower pace. Not ironically, these states have some of the highest unemployment rates.
And these same states garnered attention from The Wall Street Journal. The governors in these states have demanded their economies “should stay locked down, and in some cases are still resisting opening,” according to the Journal.
The lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. belongs to Nebraska, a mostly rural state that hardly shut down its economy. Nebraska’s unemployment rate is 5.2 percent, compared to the national average of 13.3 percent (for the month of May, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).
Nevada boasts the worst jobless rate at 25.3 percent, followed by Hawaii at 22.6 percent and Michigan at 21.2 percent. These numbers are startling, since the national unemployment rate had been in the 3.40-percent range prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Florida and Georgia have received national attention for reopening their economies sooner than other states. Georgia’s approach has worked the best according to the jobless figures, while Florida’s jobless numbers are still high. Florida’s unemployment rate is at 14.5 percent, while Georgia is at an impressive 9.7 percent.
Among other states that have slowly reopened their economies, California’s unemployment rate is at 16.3 percent, New Jersey is at 15.2 percent, while New York is at 14.5 percent, the same as Florida.
Within the 67 counties in Florida, Osceola has the worst unemployment figures (31.1 percent unemployment rate), with tiny Lafayette coming out the best at 5.7 percent. Nassau County’s unemployment rate is at 11.0 percent, as of the May figures.
Orange County’s employment situation is not much better than in Osceola. Not ironically, both these counties are in or around Orlando, home of Disney World. Disney, considered one of the top tourist destinations in the world, has been understandably impacted by the virus repercussions.
Nassau County is also very reliant on tourism. Thus, the weakness in our job data is likewise understandable. With both the Ritz-Carlton and Omni hotels rehiring many of their workers in recent weeks, the jobless rate here should improve considerably.
At the peak of the epidemic in March/April, some 2700 workers in the local tourism industry became unemployed. In fact, the Omni closed its operations temporarily during this period.
While some local restaurants have been plagued by virus outbreaks – and forced to close temporarily – the hotels here have fared better so far. The tourism on Amelia Island has been revived with the reopening of the state’s economy, judging by crowds you now see, as well as hard figures.
The reopening here and around the state is garnering momentum. Hopefully, without too many interruptions from virus outbreaks, we will lead the race back to prosperity.
Steve Nicklas is a financial advisor for a major brokerage firm who lives and works on Amelia Island. He is also an award-winning columnist. His columns appear regularly in several newspapers in North Florida and South Georgia, and on his website: He has also published a book, “All About Money,” consisting of his favorite columns over the past 20 years. The book is available at local stores and on Amazon. He can be reached at 904-753-0236 or at [email protected].