State Unemployment Above 6% in 6 States, Led by New Mexico

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According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in November several states had unemployment rates above 6%, while the national rate for the month was 5%. These states have jobless rates that mean their economies continue to struggle. They are Alaska (6.4%), Louisiana (6.3%), Nevada (6.5%), New Mexico (6.8%) and West Virginia (6.5%).

The numbers in these states are especially high given state trends in November. The BLS report for the month included these comments:

Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in November. Twenty-seven states had unemployment rate decreases from October, 11 states had increases, and 12 states and the District of Columbia had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, four states had increases, and one state had no change. The national jobless rate was unchanged from October at 5.0 percent and was 0.8 percentage point lower than in November 2014.

For the most part, the jobless rate in these states is not getting much better. In Alaska, the rate has been the same for three months. In Louisiana, it has gotten worse; the figure was 6% in September. In Nevada, it has improved slightly from 6.7% in September. In New Mexico, the rate is unchanged in three months. West Virginia is the only state that has posted a significant improvement, from 7.3% in September.


At the other end of the spectrum, two states have jobless rates under 3%: North Dakota (2.7%) and Nebraska (2.9%). A recent Wall Street Journal article noted about one of Nebraska’s largest cities:

In such a tight labor market, it’s relatively easy for many workers to find or switch jobs, earn higher wages and land more-generous benefits. During the summer, average hourly earnings in the Lincoln metro area surged nearly 11% from a year earlier and by October were up 8.4% from the same month in 2014. Nationwide, that wage growth was 2.5%.

Workers in Alaska, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico and West Virginia should be so lucky.