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Economy in Brief

Unemployment Rates Decline Across the U.S.
by Tom Moeller  January 29, 2014

The overall U.S. rate of unemployment of 6.7% last month was its lowest since October 2008. Improvement was registered across the country and gained momentum in many states. While the country's overall jobless rate is down 2.2 percentage points from the peak 2010 average, Nevada's 8.8% rate is down 5.0 percentage points from 2010. Nevertheless, it remains more than three times the rate in nearby North Dakota. Florida's 6.2% unemployment rate similarly is 5.1 percentage points below its annual peak. Another state with relatively high unemployment is Michigan. Here again, however, its 8.4% jobless rate is 5.0 percentage points lower than during 2010. Finally, California's rate of 8.3% is 4.0 percentage points below the 2010 high of 12.3%.

States with relatively low unemployment have shown comparatively little improvement from the highs. In Texas, for example, the 6.0% jobless rate is down a lesser 2.2 percentage points from 2010. Virginia's 5.2% jobless rate is down 1.9 percentage points from the high of 7.1%. Utah has realized a bit more of an improvement. Its 4.2% unemployment rate is down 2.7 percentage points from the 6.9% high. The smallest improvement in the jobless rate has been in Nebraska where the current 3.6% unemployment rate is just 1.3 percentage points below the 4.9% high.

The unemployment rate figures in individual metropolitan areas continue, in a few circumstances, to differ widely from the state numbers. Florida's 6.2% unemployment rate, is well below the 7.5% in the Miami metro area, although Miami's rate is down from 12.4% in 2010. Michigan's 8.4% jobless rate also is under the 8.9% jobless rate around Detroit. New York state's 7.1% unemployment rate is below the 8.1% in New York City while California's 8.3% rate is under 9.2% around Los Angeles. Equaling one another is the Illinois unemployment rate of 8.6% and the 8.6% rate around Chicago. Also, Ohio's 7.2% rate of joblessness is near Cleveland's of 7.3%. Working the other way is Washington state's 6.6% jobless rate as it by far exceeds Seattle's 5.3%.

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

State Unemployment Rate Dec Nov 2013 2012 2011 Labor Force
Total U.S. 6.7% 7.0% 7.4 8.1% 8.9% 155.4 mil.
Ten States With Highest Jobless Rate
  Nevada 8.8% 9.0% 9.4% 11.1% 13.2% 1.4 mil.
  Illinois 8.6 8.7 9.1 8.9 9.7 6.6
  Michigan 8.4 8.8 8.7 9.1 10.4 4.7
  California 8.3 8.5 8.9 10.5 11.8 18.5
  Mississippi 8.0 8.3 8.8 9.1 10.5 1.3
  Tennessee 7.8 8.1 8.2 8.0 9.3 3.1
  New Jersey 7.3 7.8 8.6 9.5 9.3 4.6
  Indiana 6.9 7.3 8.1 8.4 9.0 3.2
  North Carolina 6.9 7.4 8.6 9.5 10.3 4.7
  South Carolina 6.6 7.1 7.9 9.1 10.4 2.2
States With Lowest Jobless Rate Dec Nov 2013 2012 2011 Labor Force
  Virginia 5.2% 5.4% 5.5% 5.9% 6.5% 4.2 mil.
  New Hampshire 5.1 5.1 5.3 5.5 5.5 0.7
  Minnesota 4.6 4.6 5.1 5.6 6.5 3.0
  Hawaii 4.5 4.4 4.7 5.8 6.5 0.7
  Wyoming 4.4 4.4 4.7 5.4 6.1 0.3
  Iowa 4.2 4.3 4.7 5.2 5.9 1.6
  Utah 4.1 4.3 4.7 5.7 6.9 1.4
  Vermont 4.2 4.4 4.4 5.0 5.6 0.4
  Nebraska 3.6 3.7 3.9 3.9 4.5 1.0
  North Dakota 2.6 2.6 3.0 3.1 3.5 0.4
Jobless Rate In Other Selected Large States Dec Nov 2013 2012 2011 Labor Force
  Arizona 7.6% 7.8% 8.0% 8.3% 9.4% 3.0 mil.
  Arizona 7.6 7.8 8.0 8.3 9.4 3.0
  Connecticut 7.4 7.6 7.9 8.3 8.9 1.8
  Ohio 7.2 7.4 7.2 7.2 8.6 5.7
  New York 7.1 7.4 7.7 8.5 8.3 9.6
  Massachusetts 7.0 7.1 6.9 6.7 7.3 3.5
  Washington 6.6 6.8 7.0 8.2 9.2 3.5
  Florida 6.2 6.4 7.1 8.6 10.3 9.4
  Wisconsin 6.2 6.3 6.8 6.9 7.6 3.1
  Texas 6.0 6.1 6.3 6.8 8.0 12.8
  Louisiana 5.7 6.3 6.5 6.4 7.3 2.1
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