Unemployment Rate Drops Below 2.9% in 5 States

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The national unemployment rate for March was 4.5%. In five states is it much lower, below 2.9%, which shows how much the jobless situation can differ from place to place.

In March, the unemployment rate in Hawaii was 2.7%. It was 2.6% in Colorado and 2.8% in New Hampshire. It was 2.8% in both North Dakota and in South Dakota as well.

If 4.5% is considered “full employment” by many economists, what is the situation in these five states called? Presumably, many employers cannot find new employees because virtually everyone in the population has jobs. That, in many ways, is bad news.

The Dakotas have had low unemployment for many years. Some of this has been due to the fracking industry, which has brought in workers needed by oil companies. Unemployment has been low in the Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont areas as well. Maine’s unemployment rate last month was 3%, as was Vermont’s.

A look at state unemployment across the nation according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics assessment for March:

Colorado had the lowest unemployment rate in March, 2.6 percent, closely followed by Hawaii, 2.7 percent, and New Hampshire, North Dakota, and South Dakota, 2.8 percent each. The rates in Arkansas (3.6 percent), Colorado (2.6 percent), Maine (3.0 percent), and Oregon (3.8 percent) set new series lows. (All state series begin in 1976.) New Mexico had the highest jobless rate, 6.7 percent. In total, 19 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 4.5 percent, 7 states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 24 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

In March, 17 states had unemployment rate decreases, the largest of which was in Illinois (-0.5 percentage point). The remaining 33 states and the District of Columbia had jobless rates that were not notably different from those of a month earlier, though some had changes that were at least as large numerically as the significant changes.

Eighteen states had unemployment rate changes from March 2016, all of which were decreases. The largest of these declines occurred in West Virginia (-1.3 percentage points) and Illinois and Nevada (-1.2 points each)