There is a wide range in the unemployment levels across the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The national rate is 3.9%. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the rate is above 5% in three states and below 3% in nine.
The states with extremely low unemployment are Colorado at 2.8%, Hawaii at 2.1%, Idaho at 2.9%, Iowa at 2.6%, Nebraska at 2.9%, New Hampshire at 2.7%, North Dakota at 2.6%, Vermont at 2.8% and Wisconsin at 2.9%. Most of these are clustered in the mountain states, and all have populations at the low end among states.
Two states with unemployment above 5% are West Virginia at 5.4% and Alaska at 6.9%. Also, the unemployment rate in the District of Columbia is 5.6%. West Virginia is an extremely poor state with a median household income of $42,019. Alaska’s median household income is near the high end among states at $73,355. However, Alaska residents are each paid an annual sum from the Alaska Permanent Fund. For a family of four, these payments can be over $7,500 a year. The fund was established using money from oil companies that have earned billions of dollars drilling in the state.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics State Employment and Unemployment Summary for July further states:
Unemployment rates were lower in July in 11 states, higher in 2 states, and stable in 37 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Ten states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier and 40 states and the District had little or no change. The national unemployment rate edged down by 0.1 percentage point from June to 3.9 percent and was 0.4 point lower than in July 2017.
Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 6 states in July 2018, decreased in 1 state, and was essentially unchanged in 43 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, 34 states added nonfarm payroll jobs and 16 states and the District were essentially unchanged.