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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in November
by Charles Steindel  December 20, 2019

State labor markets had mixed results in November, with some weak results offsetting a number of strong showings. Somewhat surprisingly, in light of the strong national results, only 6 states reported statistically significant gains in payroll employment, with Michigan having the largest percentage change (.6 percent, certainly heavily influenced by the end of the General Motors strike), and Texas having the largest numerical gain. A fair number of states reported drops in their job count, with Illinois experiencing a statistically significant one (17,200, or .3 percent). Over the past 12 months Utah was once again the leader in job growth, up 3.2 percent and, as has been usual, Western states were in the top ranks, with Florida, up 2.5 percent the only Eastern state in the high growth group. Once again, Western states were typically the leaders in job growth, though Florida’s 2.6 percent gain ranked second. Wyoming and Oklahoma have shed some jobs over the past year, and a belt of states stretching from New Jersey to North Dakota have seen job gains of 1.0 percent or less since November 2018.

In the household survey figures Alaskan was again the highest but, remarkably, its 6.1 percent is the lowest ever recorded for the current series, which starts in 1976! Clearly, the Alaskan labor market is very different from those in other states. Elsewhere, Mississippi’s rate rose from 5.5 to 5.6 percent, and West Virginia from 4.8 to 4.9 percent. The vast majority of states—including all of the largest—had unemployment rates between 2.5 and 4.4 percent.

Puerto Rico had another poor month, with the number of jobs on the island falling more than 8,000, the unemployment rate rising to 7.9 percent, and the labor force and number of residents employed dropping.

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