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Economy in Brief

U.S. State Unemployment Rates Jump
by Tom Moeller June 22, 2010

By state, how widely does unemployment vary in the United States? Amazingly, it varies by ten percentage points according to figures released last week by the Census Department. From high to low, the unemployment rates ranged from 14.0% in Nevada to 3.6% in North Dakota. However, the detail contained in this release was as notable as the headline figure. To start, the unemployment rate was nearly 13.0% in two of the largest states, Michigan and California. Here the combined labor forces are 15.0% of the country's total. The two states at the bottom of the unemployment rate list were North and South Dakota, both close to 4%. But in these two states the combined labor force is less than 1.0% of the country's total.

To further emphasize the disparate range of unemployment, the jobless rate was near or below 7.0% in sixteen states. Combined these states  account for 14.8% of the U.S. labor force. At the other end were sixteen states, accounting for roughly half of the U.S. labor force, where unemployment was at the high end of the jobless rate's range, above 10.0%. Two notable exceptions to big states' high unemployment were Texas and New York where unemployment averaged a lower 8.3%.

Employment growth in virtually all states has improved since the recession's end last June. Texas, Louisiana and Vermont have experienced the strongest growth. Unfortunately for most others, improvement has yet to arrive. That notably is true for several of the smallest states including Nevada, Delaware, West Virginia, and Alabama where employment continues to fall significantly.  

The data used in this analysis is available in Haver's EMPLR database.

Economic freedom and employment growth in U.S. states from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis is available here.

States' Labor Markets Labor Force Unemployment Rate-May 2010 Unemployment Rate-2009 Employment Growth Last 12 Months
Nevada 1.375M 14.0% 11.8% -3.3%
Michigan 4.884 13.6 13.6 -0.4
Detroit 2.127 14.7 15.1 1.1
California 18.340 12.4 11.4 -1.1
Los Angeles 4.885 12.3 11.6 -1.7
Rhode Island 0.579 12.3 11.2 0.9
Florida 9.272 11.7 10.5 -0.8
Miami 1.289 12.4 10.6 1.7
Mississippi 1.299 11.4 9.5 -1.8
South Carolina 2.159 11.0 11.7 -0.4
Illinois 6.695 10.8 10.0 0.3
Chicago 4.123 10.5 10.0 0.2
Alabama 2.098 10.8 10.0 -2.5
Ohio 5.982 10.7 10.2 -0.8
Cleveland 1.075 9.2 9.1 -1.0
Oregon 1.966 10.6 11.0 0.5
Kentucky 2.081 10.4 10.4 -0.1
Tennessee 3.039 10.4 10.5 0.7
North Carolina 4.567 10.3 10.6 0.9
Georgia 4.719 10.2 9.6 -2.3
Indiana 3.141 10.0 10.0 -1.7
United States 154.393 9.7 9.3 -0.7
New Jersey 4.468 9.7 9.2 -0.2
Arizona 3.181 9.6 9.1 0.7
Missouri 2.993 9.3 9.3 -1.8
Massachusetts 3.486 9.2 8.4 -0.7
Pennsylvania 6.463 9.1 8.1 -0.6
Washington 3.544 9.1 8.9 0.0
Seattle 1.496 8.4 8.5 0.3
Idaho 0.761 9.0 8.0 0.3
Connecticut 1.897 8.9 8.2 -0.5
West Virginia 0.788 8.9 7.9 -3.1
Delaware 0.426 8.8 8.1 -3.4
New Mexico 0.965 8.4 7.2 -0.5
Texas 12.224 8.3 7.6 1.9
New York 9.694 8.3 8.4 -0.3
New York City 4.001 9.6 9.5 -0.2
Alaska 0.366 8.3 8.0 0.9
Wisconsin 3.054 8.2 8.5 -1.1
Colorado 2.671 8.0 7.7 -1.9
Maine 0.703 8.0 8.0 -0.0
Arkansas 1.361 7.7 7.2 -0.9
Utah 1.351 7.3 6.5 -2.2
Maryland 2.970 7.2 7.0 -1.2
Montana 0.501 7.2 6.2 -1.0
Virginia 4.194 7.1 6.6 -0.3
Minnesota 2.984 7.0 7.9 1.9
Wyoming 0.293 7.0 6.3 -1.5
Louisiana 2.096 6.9 6.8 1.4
Iowa 1.687 6.8 6.0 -0.2
Oklahoma 1.779 6.7 6.4 -0.1
Hawaii 0.637 6.6 6.8 0.0
Kansas 1.507 6.5 6.7 -0.6
New Hampshire 0.745 6.4 6.3 0.2
Vermont 0.361 6.2 6.9 1.2
Nebraska 0.989 4.9 4.6 0.3
South Dakota 0.444 4.6 4.8 -0.2
North Dakota 0.370 3.6 4.3 2.0
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