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Kentucky, Georgia, Hawaii saw highest percentages of their workforce file unemployment claims since March

Kentucky, Georgia, Hawaii saw highest percentages of their workforce file unemployment claims since March

Kentucky, Georgia and Hawaii have had the largest percentage of their workforces file unemployment claims from March 1 to May 2 as the coronavirus devastated the economy, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s analysis of Labor Department data.

Nearly 37 million unemployment claims were filed in the U.S. since March 1, and unemployment spiked to 14.7 percent in April, a rate not seen since the Great Depression.

In Kentucky, more than 35 percent of the workforce, nearly 680,000 workers, filed for unemployment. Retail, health care and leisure and accommodation jobs make up 31 percent of the Kentucky workforce, and all have been particularly impacted by stay-at-home orders.

In Georgia, nearly 35 percent of the workforce filed for unemployment, more than 1.6 million workers. More than 31 percent of Georgia’s workforce works in retail and leisure and hospitality jobs.

And more than 32 percent of Hawaii’s workforce filed for unemployment, accounting for more than 212,000 workers. More than 19 percent of Hawaiians work in the travel industry, which has been nearly halted during the pandemic.

The Chamber supports an extension of regular unemployment insurance or the creation of a new “high risk” unemployment insurance system for individuals, including independent contractors, who cannot resume normal work activities once states reopen.

Other top states include Rhode Island, where more than 31 percent of the workforce filed for unemployment, and Michigan, where more than 30 percent did, the analysis found.

The rest of the top ten states include Nevada, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Washington and Alaska, all of which had more than a quarter of their workforces file for unemployment.

The Chamber used states' February workforce as a baseline in its analysis of Labor Department data released on Thursday.