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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in June
by Charles Steindel  July 17, 2020

There was some convergence in unemployment across the nation in June, a month in which 42 states saw significant declines in their unemployment rates, while 5 saw increases. Only 10 states had unemployment rates above 10 percent, with Massachusetts's 17.4 percent being the highest. On the low side was Kentucky's astonishing 4.3 percent, but a 5 percent drop in the state's labor force from May to June played a major role in holding down formal unemployment in the Blue Grass state.

Every state—and DC—saw statistically significant increases in payroll employment in June. 16 states had gains over 100,000. This group does include Kentucky. However, resident employment there rose only 28,500, illustrating the often-large divergence between the two measures. New Jersey experienced an even more striking example of this phenomenon, with a 130,900 rise in payrolls coupled with a 60,800 drop in resident employment. The rate of growth of payrolls ranged from North Dakota's modest .8 percent to Michigan's whopping 8.1 percent, spurred by factory recalls. In general, as was the case in May, gains in leisure and hospitality, as well as education and health care, played a large role in payroll growth.

Despite the increases in May and June, all states still report lower job counts than a year ago. Kentucky is the only state not seeing an increase in its unemployment rate over this period.

Puerto Rico also saw a substantial increase in jobs in June, but once again BLS is unable to report its seasonally adjusted household sector figures. Not seasonally adjusted, Puerto Rico's unemployment rate was 8.5 percent in June, which was lower than most states.

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