State Unemployment Rates Show Little Change in August

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The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today released its data on state and regional unemployment for August. Compared with July 2012 data, unemployment rates rose in 26 states, with 12 states and the District of Columbia posting drops in unemployment rates and 12 states had no change.

Compared with August 2011, the data looks a little better: 42 states and D.C. registered decreases in the unemployment rate, while 7 showed increases and 1 was unchanged. The unemployment rate in August was 8.1%, a drop of 1% from the August 2011 total.

The two states showing the largest month-over-month job losses were D.C. (a decline of 1.5%) and Vermont (a drop of 0.8%). The month-over-month unemployment rate increases that hit 26 states improves on the July total of 44 states that saw higher unemployment in that month.

The better news is that only three states continue to post double-digit unemployment rates — Nevada, Rhode Island, and California. New Jersey, at 9.9% unemployment is close though.

Month-over-month job gains were highest in Texas, which added 38,000 jobs in August. Florida added 23,200 jobs in August and Missouri added 17,900, while Virginia lost 12,400 and D.C. lost 11,200.

Year-over-year, only New Mexico posted a statistically significant loss of jobs, seeing 13,300 jobs disappear. California has added 298,700 jobs since August 2011, Texas has added 259,000, New York has added 121,900, and Ohio has added 98,300 to lead in job gains.

As the November elections draw nearer, states that could have a decisive effect on the outcome will be more closely watched than ever because employment data figures to play a significant role in election results. Of the 10 states considered battlegrounds in the coming election, the unemployment rate increased in 5 — Wisconsin, New Hampshire, Iowa, North Carolina, and Nevada. This story at Bloomberg News has more details.

The BLS data is available here.

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