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Economy in Brief

State Unemployment Rates Are Improved But Vary Greatly
by Tom Moeller  October 22, 2012

Throughout the United States, the unemployment rate has fallen to some degree from its recession high. However, there are notable exceptions. In New Jersey and New York, for example, unemployment rates recently reached new highs. In Connecticut, the September rate of 8.9% was just slightly below its peak. The accompanying tables indicate the unemployment rates in large and small states.

In the two largest states, California and Texas, unemployment rates have declined by one-to-two percentage points from their peaks. However, the unemployment rate in California remains one of the highest in the country and more than three percentage points higher than in Texas.  The unemployment rates in the least populated states, including the Dakotas, Nebraska and Iowa, remain low. State unemployment figures are available in Haver's EMPLR database.

This economic recovery has been a mild one throughout the country. Moreover, it's not been broad-based amongst economic sectors. The result has been great variation in states' unemployment rate performance. Currently, U.S. GDP growth is expected by NABE to average just 2.2% next year. While that's a slight pickup from this year, it's not expected to materially reduce the overall unemployment rate. Without any strong momentum in the total, the pattern of little improved and divergent unemployment rates amongst states likely will continue. 

State Unemployment Rate September August 2011 2010 2009 Labor Force
Total U.S. 7.8% 8.1% 9.0% 9.6% 9.3% 155.1 mil.
Ten States With Highest Jobless Rate
  Nevada 11.8 12.1 13.6 13.7 11.6 1.4
  Rhode Island 10.5 10.7 11.3 11.7 10.9 0.6
  California 10.2 10.6 11.8 12.3 11.3 18.5
  New Jersey 9.8 9.9 9.3 9.6 9.0 4.6
  North Carolina 9.6 9.7 10.5 10.9 10.5 4.7
  Mississippi 9.2 9.1 10.7 10.5 9.4 2.3
  South Carolina 9.1 9.6 10.3 11.2 11.5 2.1
  Georgia 9.0 9.2 9.8 10.2 9.8 4.8
  New York 8.9 9.1 8.2 8.6 8.3 9.5
  Connecticut 8.9 9.0 8.8 9.3 8.2 1.9

States With Lowest Jobless Rate September August 2011 2010 2009 Labor Force
  Virginia 5.9% 5.9% 6.3% 6.9% 6.9% 4.3 mil.
  Minnesota 5.8 5.9 6.4 7.3 8.0 3.0
  New Hampshire 5.7 5.7 5.4 6.1 6.2 0.7
  Utah 5.4 5.8 6.7 8.0 7.6 1.3
  Wyoming 5.4 5.7 6.0 7.0 6.3 0.3
  Vermont 5.4 5.3 5.6 6.4 6.9 0.4
  Iowa 5.2 5.5 5.9 6.3 6.2 1.7
  South Dakota 4.4 4.5 4.7 5.0 5.1 0.4
  Nebraska 3.9 4.0 4.4 4.7 4.7 1.0
  North Dakota 3.0 3.0 3.5 3.8 4.1 0.4

Jobless Rate In Other Selected Large States September August 2011 2010 2009 Labor Force
  Florida 8.7% 8.8% 10.5% 11.3% 10.4% 9.3 mil.
  Washington 8.5 8.6 9.2 9.9 9.4 3.5
  Tennessee 8.3 8.5 9.2 9.8 10.5 3.1
  Indiana 8.2 8.3 9.0 10.1 10.4 3.1
  Arizona 8.2 8.3 9.5 10.5 9.9 3.0
  Colorado 8.0 8.2 8.3 8.9 8.1 2.7
  Wisconsin 7.3 7.5 7.5 8.4 8.8 3.1
  Ohio 7.0 7.2 8.6 10.0 10.1 5.8
  Louisiana 7.0 7.4 7.3 7.5 6.7 2.1
  Maryland 6.9 7.1 7.1 7.8 7.4 3.1
  Texas 6.8  7.1 7.9 8.2 7.5 12.6 
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