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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in February
by Charles Steindel  March 27, 2020

State labor markets were generally sound in February, prior to the onset of the pandemic. Texas led the way, with a 50,400 (.4%) rise in payrolls—tops in the absolute gain and trailing only Alaska in percentage change. Michigan and Massachusetts also had statistically meaningful increases. Eleven states reported minor declines in payrolls; the rest reported small gains.

Over the twelve months ending in January job growth was weaker in the mid-section of the nation than elsewhere, with six states in that zone seeing a loss of jobs (only West Virginia’s drop was statistically significant). Vermont also experienced a statistically insignificant job drop. Once again, job growth tended to be faster in West, with Utah’s 2.9% increase being the largest.

In the household numbers, Alaska’s unemployment rate moved down to 5.8% (North Dakota’s 2.2% was the lowest in the nation), so in February there was no state with an unemployment rate of 6% or higher. At this juncture, one can only speculate when that might again occur.

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