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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in October
by Charles Steindel  November 19, 2019

Reflecting the relatively muted national increase, in general, states saw little change in payroll employment in October. Only 4 states (Texas, Maryland, Utah, and Nebraska) reported statistically significant gains. Michigan reported a substantial, and statistically significant, decline, obviously mainly or totally reflecting the General Motors strike. 15 other states reported a statistically insignificant drop, or no change, in payrolls—this is a smaller group than the 22 that reported point declines in the initial release of the September figures. Over the past 12 months all states except Michigan and North Dakota (Michigan was down; North Dakota was unchanged) registered some increase in their job counts (including DC in this group), though only 27 of these were statistically significant. Utah was again the leader, with a 3.2 percent rise over this period. Once again, Western states were typically the leaders in job growth, though Florida's 2.6 percent gain ranked second. 24 states (again viewing DC as a state) had increases of 1.0 percent or less over the last 12 months, a smaller number than we had been seeing, suggesting some cooling-off in the pace of job growth in much of the country. Aside from Alaska and Hawaii, the softer growth areas tended to be in the Middle West, the lower Mississippi Valley, and the Northeast.

In the household survey figures Alaska's unchanged 6.2 percent unemployment rate continued to be the highest in the nation, and Mississippi's rate remained above 5 percent. Vermont's 2.2 percent rate—also unchanged from September—was again the national low.

Puerto Rico had a discouraging month, with the island's unemployment rate edging up from 7.6 to 7.7 percent, despite a drop the labor force, and the number of jobs down 1.800.

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