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Economy in Brief

State Unemployment Rates Continue Lower but Vary Greatly
by Tom Moeller  June 21, 2013

Improvement in the overall labor market is evident in May's 7.6% unemployment rate. That compares to 7.8% at the end of last year and 8.1% during all of 2012. Notable has been the rate's recent decline in states where it previously was sticky. Great improvement has been in California where May's 8.6% rate of unemployment is two percentage below last year's average. Washington also saw great improvement. May's 6.8% unemployment rate compared to 8.2% during all of last year. In New York, May's rate of 7.6% was roughly one full percentage point below last year's average.

The rate of labor market improvement has lagged in many large states. In Texas, for example, while the 6.5% jobless rate is low relative to the rest of the country, it's down just slightly from last year's 6.8% average. In Illinois, 9.1% joblessness differs little from the 8.9% averaged last year. In Tennessee, the current 8.3% unemployment rate is actually above last year's 8.0% average. In smaller states, the rate of job market improvement also varies. Nevada's 9.5% unemployment rate is well below last year's 11.1% average but in neighboring Arizona, 7.8% unemployment is down just modestly from last year's 8.3%.

The household employment survey also produces data on individual metropolitan areas. These figures, in a few circumstances, differ widely from the state numbers. Florida's 7.1% unemployment rate, for example, is a far cry from the 9.3% in the Miami metro area. Michigan's 8.4% rate also is under the 9.5% rate around Detroit. New York state's 7.6% rate lags the 8.3% in New York City while California's 8.6% rate is under 9.6% around Los Angeles. Running close to one another are the Illinois unemployment rate of 9.1% and the 9.3% rate around Chicago. Also, Ohio's 7.0% unemployment rate is near Cleveland's of 6.9%. Working the other way, Washington state's 6.8% jobless rate by far exceeds Seattle's 4.7%.

State unemployment figures are available in Haver's EMPLR database.

 

State Unemployment Rate May April 2012 2011 2010 Labor Force
Total U.S. 7.6% 7.5% 8.1% 8.9% 9.6% 155.7 mil.
Ten States With Highest Jobless Rate
  Nevada 9.5 9.6 11.1 13.2 13.8 1.4
  Illinois 9.1 9.3 8.9 9.7 10.4 9.6
  Mississippi 9.1 9.1 9.1 10.5 10.5 1.3
  North Carolina 8.8 8.9 9.5 10.3 10.8 4.7
  California 8.6 9.0 10.5 11.8 12.3 18.6
  New Jersey 8.6 8.7 9.5 9.3 9.6 4.6
  Georgia 8.3 8.2 9.0 9.9 10.2 4.8
  Indiana 8.3 8.5 8.4 9.0 10.1 3.2
  Tennessee 8.3 8.0 8.0 9.3 9.8 3.1
  South Carolina 8.0 8.0 9.1 10.4 11.2 2.2

States With Lowest Jobless Rate May April 2012 2011 2010 Labor Force
  New Hampshire 5.3% 5.5% 5.5% 5.5% 6.1% 0.7 mil.
  Minnesota 5.3 5.3 5.6 6.5 7.3 3.0
  Virginia 5.3 5.2 5.9 6.5 7.1 4.2
  Wyoming 4.6 4.8 5.4 6.1 7.0 0.3
  Utah 4.6 4.7 5.7 6.9 8.1 1.4
  Iowa 4.6 4.7 5.2 5.9 6.3 1.6
  Vermont 4.1 4.0 5.0 5.6 6.4 0.4
  South Dakota 4.0 4.1 4.4 4.8 5.1 0.4
  Nebraska 3.8 3.7 3.9 4.5 4.7 1.0
  North Dakota 3.2 3.3 3.1 3.5 3.8 0.4

Jobless Rate In Other Selected Large States May April 2012 2011 2010 Labor Force
  Connecticut 8.0% 8.0% 8.3% 8.9% 9.3% 1.8 mil.
  Arizona 7.8 7.9 8.3 9.4 10.4 3.0
  New York 7.6 7.8 8.5 8.3 8.6 9.6
  Florida 7.1 7.2 8.6 10.3 11.3 9.4
  Wisconsin 7.0 7.1 6.9 7.6 8.4 3.1
  Ohio 7.0 7.0 7.2 8.6 10.0 5.7
  Colorado 6.9 6.9 8.0 8.6 9.0 2.8
  Washington 6.8 7.0 8.2 9.2 9.9 3.5
  Maryland 6.7 6.5 6.8 7.3 7.8 3.1
  Texas 6.5 6.4 6.8 8.0 8.2 12.8
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