Unemployment in These 3 States Post All-Time Lows

Douglas A. McIntyre

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its monthly unemployment numbers by state. The BLS collection and posting of state job statistics began in 1976. Three states had their lowest jobless rates in April since those first BLS figures were issued 43 years ago.

The national unemployment rate was 3.6% in April when the economy added 263,000 jobs. That was the lowest level since December 1969. The figure was widely hailed as evidence of the ongoing strength of the American economy and a sign that the expansion since the Great Recession is still well underway. Much of the state-by-state data paints the same picture.

Among states, the BLS reported, “The rates in Pennsylvania (3.8 percent), Vermont (2.2 percent), and Wisconsin (2.8 percent) set new series lows. (All state series begin in 1976.)” In the same statement, the agency reported that among all states, Vermont had the lowest unemployment rate. Alaska’s was highest at 6.5%, or 81% above the national level.

The agency additionally reported that 12 states posted jobless rates below the U.S. national number for April. Eleven states and the District of Columbia posted higher rates. Twenty-seven states posted numbers that were approximately the same as the national number.

The changes in the unemployment rate by state varied in several states from April compared to March. Ten states had jobless rate decreases. The largest of these were in Louisiana, Nevada, New Jersey and West Virginia. Each fell 0.2%. In 40 states and the District of Columbia, unemployment rates were not changed much from those in March.

Four states had unemployment rate drops from April 2018. The largest of these was in Delaware, where it dropped 0.7% points. This was followed by Vermont down 0.5% points, New York down 0.4% points and North Dakota off 0.3% points. The only unemployment rate increase year over the year was in Hawaii, up 0.5% points.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 10 states compared with March. The largest job increase occurred in California up 46,000, in Texas up 28,900 and New York up 26,300. Given the size of the total population in these states, it makes sense they would be at the top of the list. Employment dropped in Georgia over the previous month, down 14,900.

Twenty-nine states had year-over-year increases for April in nonfarm payroll employment. The largest job gains occurred in Texas up 294,200, California up 271,600 and Florida up 206,100. Once again, because of their total populations, it makes sense that these states would hold the leading positions in job growth.

The extraordinary jobs numbers for national and state unemployment keep rolling in. For three states, the numbers were so extraordinary that they hit all-time lows. Eventually, this may be affected by the fact that the states themselves are often the largest employer in each state.