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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in July
by Charles Steindel  August 21, 2020

State labor markets generally showed further substantive improvement in July. Most saw statistically significant drops in their unemployment rate, led by Michigan's spectacular 6.2 percentage-point plunge. Idaho, Nebraska, and Utah reported unemployment rates of 5 percent or lower. However, 18 states continue to have unemployment rates above 10 percent.

40 states (including DC) saw statistically significant increases in payroll employment in July, with 4 (California, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York) seeing increases of more than 100,000. New Mexico was the only state with a statistically significant decline. New Jersey had the largest percentage increase. Job growth appeared reasonably diverse in July, but, as was the case in May and June, gains in leisure and hospitality were widespread.

Over the last 12 months all states (and DC) except Idaho report statistically significant drops in payroll employment; Idaho's decline of a bit over 1 percent was not deemed statistically significant.

In general, labor markets appear to be stronger in the plains and Rocky Mountain states, while the Northeast—where pandemic restrictions appear to be currently more extensive (and current incidence lower) looks weaker; the large recent gains in New York and New Jersey come after very sharp declines, and New York and Massachusetts have the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Puerto Rico's job numbers were unchanged in July, though private-sector payrolls edged up. Not-seasonally adjusted the unemployment rate on the island was 7.3 percent, down from 7.9 percent in July 2019. The decline over this period reflects a drop in the labor force.

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