Labor Department Report Shows States with Highest, Lowest Unemployment

Throughout the current pandemic, it’s been clear that some areas of the nation have been harder hit than others. This is not only true in terms of coronavirus cases and deaths but also for economic conditions. With that in mind, let’s take a look at this morning’s Bureau of Labor Statistics state unemployment report.

As previously announced, the national unemployment rate was 10.2% in July. However, the latest data shows that 28 states and the District of Columbia saw jobless rates lower than that average for the month while 11 states exceeded the average.

With an unemployment rate of 16.1% in July, Massachusetts was once again the highest in the country. That was followed by neighboring New York with 15.9% and Nevada at 14%. Meanwhile, New Mexico saw the largest increase in joblessness among any state, jumping 4.3 percentage points over the course of the month to reach 12.7%. Maine also saw a significant rise in unemployment for the month, going from 6.7% to 9.9%. Additionally, the unemployment rates in three states —  Connecticut, New Mexico, and New York — were the highest since at least 1976 (when record-keeping of such state figures began).

On the other side of the coin, Utah saw the lowest unemployment rate for the month at 4.5%. Also bringing down the average were Nebraska (4.8%) and Idaho (5%). Of course, while those are comparatively low, it’s worth recalling that the national unemployment average was 3.5% just six months ago. In any case, Michigan saw the largest decrease in unemployment rate for the month, falling 6.2 percentage points to 8.7%.

In some other encouraging news, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 40 states as well as in Washington D.C. during the month of July. The states seeing the largest gains in number of jobs were New York (+176,600), California (+140,400), and New Jersey (+129,900), while the Garden State was the highest in terms of percentage (+3.6%) followed by Rhode Island (+3.1%), Michigan (+2.7%), and Missouri (also +2.7%). That said, as one would expect, nonfarm payroll employment is down in 49 states (and D.C.) so far this year, while Idaho has remained “essentially unchanged” according to the labor department.

Like with the coronavirus pandemic itself, this latest data shows that conditions are quite different from state to state — and likely from county to county. Additionally, while there have been some improvements, there’s clearly a long way to go before true recovery can be achieved. Unfortunately, there’s also the possibility that numbers in some areas could begin to head in the wrong direction, either due to rising case numbers, lowered demand leading to layoffs, or other factors. Therefore, while progress is being made, it’s important for the U.S. to focus and continue to offer support where its needed.


Jonathan Dyer

I'm a small town guy living in Los Angeles looking to make solid financial decisions. I write for a number of finance websites, including HuffingtonPost and Business2Community. I founded in 2015 to focus on personal finance and the emerging FinTech markets.

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