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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in January
by Charles Steindel  March 16, 2020

In what now seems like ancient times, state labor market data was strong in January. Twelve states had statistically significant increases in payrolls over the month, led by a 35,700 gain in Florida and 33,500 in New York. Some other Northeastern states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey saw percentage point gains as comparable or larger than New York’s .3 percent (New Hampshire was up .7 percent) strongly suggesting that the remarkably mild winter boosted the numbers. Over the 12 months ending in January job growth was, as has been the case for some time, strongest in most of the belt of states from Washington to Texas, and generally weaker in states along the Mississippi River and its tributaries (along with Alaska and Vermont), with a number reporting statistically insignificant drops.

In the household survey, Alaska had yet again the highest unemployment rate, at 6%, while Mississippi stood at 5.5%, Louisiana at 5.3%, DC 5.2% and West Virginia. Among larger states, Pennsylvania’s 4.7% was highest. North Dakota’s 2.3% was the lowest in the nation, and Vermont and South Carolina reported 2.4% rates.

Once again, these are January numbers (they incorporate the annual benchmark and seasonal revisions). Like the soon to be released February figures, they are rather moot at this juncture.

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