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Economy in Brief

State Labor Market Conditions Are All Over The U.S. Map
by Tom Moeller  April 19, 2013

Depending on where you live in the U.S., the unemployment rate may vary greatly from the country's 7.6% average. Suffering the greatest degree of unemployment is the Pacific region where jobless rates average 8.8%. California averages the highest rate at 9.4%. In the Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale areas alone, the rate sits at 10.2%. At the other end of the regional range is Hawaii where the jobless rate is just 5.1%. 

In the heavily populated Middle Atlantic and East North Central states, unemployment rates averaging 8.3% are also above the rest of the nation. New Jersey's 9.0% rate is at the high end of the range. Also high is Michigan (8.5%), where the rate is down considerably from a 14.2% peak in August of 2009. That's still is elevated, however, by a sluggish industrial sector. Detroit's rate alone is 9.9%, down from 16.0% at the depths of the last recession.

In the West South Central states, the unemployment rate is below the national average at 6.3%. In Texas, the jobless rate stands at 6.4%; Louisiana averages 6.2% while Oklahoma's rate is substantially lower at 5.0%. Regionally, the lowest unemployment rates can be found in the least populated states of the West North Central area. Here, unemployment rates of 3.3% in North Dakota, 4.9% in Iowa and 6.7% in Missouri help bring the region's average to just 5.4%. 

Mar Feb Mar'12 2012 2011 2010
U.S. Average Unemployment Rate (%) 7.6 7.7 8.2 8.1 8.9 9.6
State Unemployment Rates          
Pacific 8.8 9.1 10.1 9.8 11.1 11.7
Middle Atlantic 8.3 8.5 8.4 8.5 8.4 8.8
East North Central 8.3 8.3 8.2 8.2 9.2 10.5
East South Central 8.0 7.9 8.0 8.1 9.4 9.9
South Atlantic 7.6 7.8 8.3 8.2 9.3 9.9
Mountain 7.1 7.2 8.1 7.9 8.9 9.6
New England 6.9 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.8 8.5
West South Central 6.3 6.2 6.8 6.6 7.7 7.9
West North Central 5.4 5.5 5.7 5.7 6.6 7.2

Pacific; AK, CA, HI, OR, WA -- Middle Atlantic; NJ, NY, PA -- East North Central; IL, IN, MI, OH, WI -- East South Central; AL, KY, MS, TN -- South Atlantic; DE, DC, FL, GA, MD, NC, SC, VA, WV -- Mountain; AZ, CO, ID, MT, NV, NM, UT, WY -- New England; CT, ME, MA, NH, RI, VT -- West South Central; AR, LA, OK, TX -- West North Central; IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD

The variation in unemployment rates obviously reflects great differences in job growth. In the Pacific states, job growth has averaged 1.7% y/y. Growth of  2.3% y/y in California, however, contrasts sharply with negative growth of 1.0% y/y in Oregon. In the South Atlantic states, growth has averaged 1.5% y/y. Florida has realized the strongest job increase of 2.3% y/y with South Carolina at 1.2% y/y.

In the heavily populated Middle Atlantic states, employment rose just 0.5% over the last year. New Jersey saw 1.2% y/y job growth but New York realized just a 0.2% y/y gain. Jobs grew an average 0.5% y/y in Pennsylvania. The least populated West North Central States also had just 0.5% job gains with North Dakota at 1.8% y/y, Minnesota at 0.7% y/y and South Dakota a minimal 0.4% y/y.

At the low end of the range for job growth has been New England. Here, jobs have fallen 0.3% over the last year following negative growth rates extending back to 2008. In Connecticut jobs fell 1.6% during the last twelve months and in Massachusetts employment levels were unchanged y/y. Also realizing an average 0.2% y/y decline in jobs was the East North Central states of Illinois and Indiana (-0.4% y/y) Ohio (-0.4% y/y) and Michigan (-0.2% y/y).

Some Unpleasant Implications for Unemployment Targeters is the title of this week's speech by St. Louis Fed President James Bullard and it can be found here.

Mar Feb Mar'12 2012 2011 2010
U.S. Average Employment Growth (Y/Y %) 0.9 1.0 1.7 1.8 0.6 -0.6
State Employment Growth
Pacific 1.7 1.6 1.6 1.7 0.9 -0.5
South Atlantic 1.5 1.7 2.0 2.0 1.6 -0.1
West South Central 1.3 1.5 1.9 1.9 1.5 1.3
Mountain 1.3 1.3 1.2 1.3 0.2 -1.3
Middle Atlantic 0.5 0.7 0.6 0.8 0.1 -0.8
East South Central 0.5 0.6 1.0 1.1 1.5 1.5
West North Central 0.5 0.4 0.8 0.7 0.7 0.1
East North Central -0.2 -0.0 0.9 0.8 0.6 -0.8
New England -0.3 -0.2 0.5 0.4 0.4 -0.1

The regional household survey employment figures are available in Haver's EMPLR database.

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