Economic Indicators

News from EPI Halfway through the year, most state labor markets continue at a jog—better to finish at a sprint

The July State Employment and Unemployment data, released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, paint a similar picture to what we have seen for much of the past year: moderate job growth for the majority of states, with a handful of exceptions scattered throughout the country. Overall, the pace of job growth across the states may have slowed slightly in recent months compared with the beginning of the year or the same period last year. Similarly, the unemployment rate ticked down or stayed the same in a majority of states, although slightly more states experienced increases in unemployment than earlier in the year or at the same time last year. As the labor market moves closer to full employment, both of these findings are not surprising.

Nevertheless, if we are to ever reach full employment, we need to keep adding jobs and the faster, the better.

From April to July, 42 states added jobs with the largest percentage gains occurring in South Dakota (+1.1 percent), Maine (+1.0 percent), Colorado (+0.9 percent), Florida (+0.9 percent), and North Dakota (+0.9 percent). Over the same period, eight states and the District of Columbia lost jobs, with Montana (-1.1 percent), Wyoming (-0.7 percent), D.C. (-0.6 percent), and Oklahoma (-0.4 percent) posting the largest percentage losses.

Changes in state unemployment rates since the spring were more mixed. From April to July, the unemployment rate fell in 17 states and the District of Columbia, with the largest reductions occurring in Illinois (-0.8 percentage points), North Carolina (-0.7 percentage points), and West Virginia (-0.7 percentage points). Over the same period, unemployment rose in 25 states. Colorado (+0.7 percentage points), Nevada (+0.7 percentage points), and Oregon (+0.7 percentage points) had the largest increases, although all three of these states simultaneously added jobs. The unemployment rate was unchanged in 8 states.

Today’s report again confirms that most state labor markets continue in the right direction, and some are getting closer to their pre-recession conditions. Still, the pace of recovery has been far too slow, and much of the blame should fall with state and federal lawmakers who cut public budgets at the exact time when public spending should have been filling in for weak private sector demand. Until stronger wage growth signals that the country has reached the full-employment finish line, policymakers should be working to pick up the pace. The Federal Reserve should keep interest rates low and state policymakers should take advantage of low rates to expand investment in infrastructure.

Unemployment

Unemployment rate by state, July 2016

State Percentage point change since December 2007 Percentage point change last 3 months Unemployment rate, July 2016
Alabama 1.3 -0.4 5.7%
Alaska 0.3 0.1 6.7%
Arizona 1.6 0.5 6.0%
Arkansas -1.3 0.0 3.9%
California -0.5 0.2 5.5%
Colorado -0.3 0.7 3.8%
Connecticut 0.8 0.0 5.7%
Delaware 0.6 0.1 4.3%
DC 0.2 -0.5 5.9%
Florida -0.2 -0.1 4.7%
Georgia -0.1 -0.5 5.0%
Hawaii 0.3 0.3 3.5%
Idaho 0.6 0.1 3.8%
Illinois 0.3 -0.8 5.8%
Indiana -0.2 -0.6 4.6%
Iowa 0.4 0.2 4.1%
Kansas -0.2 0.3 4.1%
Kentucky -0.6 -0.5 4.9%
Louisiana 2.2 0.0 6.3%
Maine -1.0 0.5 3.9%
Maryland 0.9 -0.3 4.3%
Massachusetts -0.5 -0.1 4.1%
Michigan -2.8 -0.3 4.5%
Minnesota -0.8 0.1 3.9%
Mississippi 0.1 0.0 6.0%
Missouri -0.7 0.4 4.7%
Montana 0.0 0.0 4.2%
Nebraska 0.1 0.1 3.1%
Nevada 1.4 0.7 6.5%
New Hampshire -0.6 0.3 2.9%
New Jersey 0.6 0.5 5.2%
New Mexico 2.4 0.2 6.4%
New York -0.2 -0.2 4.7%
North Carolina -0.3 -0.7 4.7%
North Dakota 0.0 -0.1 3.1%
Ohio -0.9 -0.4 4.8%
Oklahoma 1.4 0.5 5.0%
Oregon -0.1 0.7 5.2%
Pennsylvania 0.8 0.3 5.6%
Rhode Island -0.6 0.1 5.5%
South Carolina -0.5 -0.6 5.2%
South Dakota 0.1 0.3 2.8%
Tennessee -1.2 0.0 4.3%
Texas 0.3 0.2 4.6%
Utah 0.9 0.2 3.9%
Vermont -1.0 0.0 3.2%
Virginia 0.2 -0.2 3.7%
Washington 1.0 0.0 5.8%
West Virginia 1.0 -0.7 5.7%
Wisconsin -0.6 -0.2 4.2%
Wyoming 2.9 0.2 5.7%
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The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Note: The unemployment rate measures the share of jobless persons in the labor force (the sum of employment and unemployed persons) and not the entire population.  Persons who are not actively looking for work are not included in this measure.  All data are seasonally adjusted.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' Local Area Unemployment Statistics data

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Employment

Change in employment by state December 2007–July 2016

State Total employment, July 2016 Percent change since December 2007 Change since December 2007 Change last 3 months Percent change last 3 months Percent change since December 2007
Alabama 1,962,300 -2.6% -52,600 -4,100 -0.2% -2.6%
Alaska 340,100 6.9% 22,100 2,600 0.8% 6.9%
Arizona 2,703,300 0.9% 23,900 6,300 0.2% 0.9%
Arkansas 1,226,100 1.5% 18,500 1,100 0.1% 1.5%
California 16,489,000 6.6% 1,016,500 97,100 0.6% 6.6%
Colorado 2,616,000 11.3% 265,500 23,000 0.9% 11.3%
Connecticut 1,693,000 -0.7% -12,300 3,500 0.2% -0.7%
Delaware 460,300 4.5% 19,700 100 0.0% 4.5%
DC 773,100 10.4% 73,000 -4,800 -0.6% 10.4%
Florida 8,359,300 5.4% 427,500 71,600 0.9% 5.4%
Georgia 4,386,400 5.2% 216,100 16,100 0.4% 5.2%
Hawaii 650,800 3.6% 22,800 3,600 0.6% 3.6%
Idaho 696,400 6.1% 39,900 2,000 0.3% 6.1%
Illinois 6,013,900 0.5% 28,700 6,600 0.1% 0.5%
Indiana 3,071,400 2.6% 78,300 -3,500 -0.1% 2.6%
Iowa 1,584,700 3.9% 59,800 2,600 0.2% 3.9%
Kansas 1,395,700 0.6% 8,900 300 0.0% 0.6%
Kentucky 1,904,000 2.5% 46,200 100 0.0% 2.5%
Louisiana 1,977,600 2.2% 42,100 -2,300 -0.1% 2.2%
Maine 618,100 -0.4% -2,600 5,900 1.0% -0.4%
Maryland 2,714,500 3.9% 102,600 9,600 0.4% 3.9%
Massachusetts 3,572,000 7.6% 253,600 19,700 0.6% 7.6%
Michigan 4,346,100 2.4% 100,700 15,000 0.3% 2.4%
Minnesota 2,903,100 4.8% 131,800 12,600 0.4% 4.8%
Mississippi 1,143,000 -1.5% -17,300 -1,100 -0.1% -1.5%
Missouri 2,816,600 0.5% 14,200 1,300 0.0% 0.5%
Montana 461,500 3.4% 15,000 -4,900 -1.1% 3.4%
Nebraska 1,018,700 5.3% 51,000 1,600 0.2% 5.3%
Nevada 1,290,100 -0.1% -1,800 7,800 0.6% -0.1%
New Hampshire 667,100 2.6% 16,700 2,000 0.3% 2.6%
New Jersey 4,081,700 0.0% -1,900 8,800 0.2% 0.0%
New Mexico 830,500 -2.2% -18,600 800 0.1% -2.2%
New York 9,398,100 7.2% 629,800 51,100 0.5% 7.2%
North Carolina 4,340,600 4.1% 172,800 31,300 0.7% 4.1%
North Dakota 442,800 22.3% 80,800 3,800 0.9% 22.3%
Ohio 5,506,300 1.6% 86,700 28,700 0.5% 1.6%
Oklahoma 1,658,200 3.2% 51,900 -6,600 -0.4% 3.2%
Oregon 1,837,100 5.7% 99,600 8,200 0.4% 5.7%
Pennsylvania 5,891,100 1.4% 79,600 9,900 0.2% 1.4%
Rhode Island 490,900 0.6% 3,100 2,200 0.5% 0.6%
South Carolina 2,053,300 5.3% 104,100 13,400 0.7% 5.3%
South Dakota 436,900 7.0% 28,600 4,600 1.1% 7.0%
Tennessee 2,956,100 5.4% 150,600 3,900 0.1% 5.4%
Texas 12,021,500 14.2% 1,493,000 48,000 0.4% 14.2%
Utah 1,424,900 12.6% 159,700 9,400 0.7% 12.6%
Vermont 318,700 3.3% 10,200 1,500 0.5% 3.3%
Virginia 3,914,300 3.6% 137,300 5,800 0.1% 3.6%
Washington 3,249,900 8.4% 252,200 12,500 0.4% 8.4%
West Virginia 759,800 -0.9% -6,600 -1,400 -0.2% -0.9%
Wisconsin 2,935,100 2.0% 57,500 9,300 0.3% 2.0%
Wyoming 280,200 -4.7% -13,900 -1,900 -0.7% -4.7%
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The data below can be saved or copied directly into Excel.

Note: Total nonfarm employment is the total number of jobs, part-time or full-time, in non-farm establishments.

Source: EPI analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics' Current Establishment Survey data

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