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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in May
by Charles Steindel  June 21, 2019

The May job numbers from the states were comparable to the national figure, showing little change in payrolls. Washington was the only state to have a statistically significant change--an increase of 9,500. Texas, California, and Florida all reported point increases larger than Washington, but none were statistically significant, nor was New York’s drop of nearly 14,000 deemed to be of statistical note. Over the 12 months ending in May, Nevada was in a league of its own, with an astonishing 4.0% increase in jobs—no other state showed growth as high as 3 percent. No state (including DC) reported a decline in jobs over this period, but it may be of note that in fewer than half the states was the rise seen as statistically significant—for instance, Massachusetts, which has generally been seen as one of the strongest states in the Northeast, was not viewed as having a statistically significant rise in jobs from May 2018 to Mary 2019.

Unemployment rates were generally low and fairly uniform across the nation. Alaska was again the outlier on the high side, but its May rate of 6.4% continues a steady decline. DC, at 5.7%, and Mississippi and New Mexico, at 5.0%, were the other high side outliers. Vermont was again the state with the lowest unemployment rate, with the May figure an astonishing 2.1%. More than forty states—including the four largest—report unemployment rates between 2.5 and 4.5%.

Puerto Rico’s travails continued in May. While the island’s May unemployment rate of 8.5% (up a notch from April) was low by historic standards, the number of jobs edged down, and remain below the pre-Maria figure and even further under the historic peak.

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