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Economy in Brief

State Labor Markets in November
by Charles Steindel  December 18, 2020

State labor market data results in November were mixed, with none showing remarkable strength and some showing substantive slippage. 25 states had statistically significant drops in their unemployment rates from October to November, a noticeably smaller number than has recently been the case. Hawaii did see its rate falling 4.1 percentage points, but the November level was 10.1 percent. 7 states had significant increases in their unemployment rates. New Jersey experienced the largest increase—2.2 percentage points—to a level of 10.2 percent (the marked rise in New Jersey's unemployment rate in October and November can be attributed to the state's labor force rebounding after a very sharp drop in September). On the positive side, 3 states—Nebraska, Vermont, and New Hampshire reported unemployment rates under 4 percent. Unemployment rates were generally low in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain regions; however, 3 very large states (California, Texas, and New York) had rates above 8 percent (Connecticut's rate was 8.2 percent—clearly, this, along with the New York and New Jersey figures, shows that the New York metro area is experiencing unusually high unemployment).

Only 17 states had statistically significant increases in payrolls in November; the three highest gains—Texas's 61,000, California's 57,100, and New York's 29,500—were unimpressive compared to the summer surge. Hawaii had the largest percentage gain (2.6); no other state was above 1.0. 3 states report statistically significant drops in payrolls; Illinois was down by 20,000 and Iowa lost .7 percent of its jobs.

Industry results were mixed. Most states shed government jobs, and clearly the surge in leisure and hospitality has faded (with Hawaii a noticeably exception over the last two months; however, leisure and hospitality employment in November in Hawaii was still about 40 percent lower than is year-earlier level).

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