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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in June
by Charles Steindel  July 19, 2019

The June job numbers from the states, like the national figures, showed increases, but except in a few instances these were not statistically significant. Only 4 states reported statistically significant gains—but these included California’s 46,200 and Texas’s 45,000 (Georgia and Tennessee were the other statistical gainers). Ten states reported declines; for the most part these were not only statistically insignificant but also seem trivial in magnitude (Maryland’s 7,000 drop and Nevada’s 4,000 decline are the exceptions). 49 states, plus DC, reported higher payroll employment in June 2019 than in June 2018, with 28 of these gains being seen as statistically significant. The one state seeing a drop in jobs over this period was Louisiana. Despite the decline in June, Nevada again led the nation in 12-month job growth, but June’s 3.3 percent figure was lower than some reported in recent months by the Silver State. In general, the states with the strongest job gains over the last year were in the West. Florida was the only Eastern state with growth above 2 percent, as compared to six in the West.

Unemployment rates remain at what had been regarded as almost unbelievably low levels. Again, Alaska was the high-side outlier, with its rate staying at 6.4%. DC was at 5.6%; no other state was as high as 5.0 percent. Vermont continued to have the lowest figure, with its rate staying at 2.1%. The vast majority of states had unemployment rates between 2.5% and 4.5%. An odd anomaly, given the strength of its job market, was the 4.6% of Washington state.

Puerto Rico has recently been back in the news. While the stories now focus on political turmoil, the underlying backdrop of a troubled economy continues. The island did report a drop in its unemployment rate in June, to 8.4% (quite low by Puerto Rican standards), even though the labor force grew , and there was an increase in payrolls. While the number of private-sector jobs is now a bit above its pre-Maria level, due to a marked contraction in government employment, the overall job count is still under the pre-storm mark.

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