The latest improvements in regional and state employment statistics across the United States are keeping in line with the latest drop in the nation's unemployment rate (down to 5.6 percent in December) – and in line with analysts' assessments of consistently improving economic and labor conditions.
The unemployment rate declined in 42 states and the District of Columbia month-over-month in December, staying in line with the falling U.S. unemployment rate, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Regional and State Employment and Unemployment report for December 2014 released Tuesday. The unemployment rate increased in only four states from November to December, while four states experienced no change in unemployment rate month-over-month.
Mississippi had the highest unemployment rate among states in December, with 7.2 percent (the District of Columbia had an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent for the month). The lowest unemployment rate among states for the month was in North Dakota, at 2.8 percent; 19 states had a “significantly lower” unemployment rate than the nationwide average for the month of 5.6 percent. Ten states plus the District Columbia had a significantly higher rate than the national average, while 21 states reported an unemployment rate “not appreciably different” from the U.S. rate.
Nineteen states experienced significant month-over-month declines in unemployment in December), led by Delaware (0.6 percent) and Michigan and North Carolina (0.4 percent each). Thirty states experienced significant unemployment rate declines year-over-year, led by Illinois (2.7 percentage points), and Rhode Island (2.5 percentage points), with the only significant increase occurring in Louisiana (1.3 percentage points).
Idaho and Vermont, at 0.4 percent each, experienced the largest month-over-month declines in employment in December.
Meanwhile, payrolls increased from November to December in 41 states and declined in only nine, plus the District of Columbia. Texas had the largest month-over-month job gain with 45,700, followed by New York (30,400) and Illinois (17,100). Minnesota experienced the largest month-over-month decline in jobs with 5,200.
Year-over-year, payrolls increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia in December. The largest increases occurred in North Dakota (5.4 percent), Texas (4.0), and Utah (3.9 percent).