Press Releases

News from EPI State unemployment data show continuing positive trends

For Immediate Release: Friday, March 30, 2012
Phoebe Silag or Karen Conner, 202-775-8810



State unemployment data show continuing positive trends


State-level employment and unemployment data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics continue to show improving labor market conditions throughout the United States.  From November 2011 to February 2012, forty-six states and the District of Columbia have seen declines in their unemployment rates. Only New York (+0.3 percentage points) and New Mexico (+0.1 percentage points) experienced unemployment rate increases, although this reflects growth in the labor market, as both states have had positive employment growth over the same period.  Maine and South Dakota’s unemployment rates stayed unchanged.


Over the past year, seventeen states have seen unemployment rate decreases of at least 1 percentage point, with Michigan, Alabama, and Utah, Tennessee, and Missouri having declines of 1.5 percentage points or more.   These five states have all experienced positive job growth over the same period.  Seven states (Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin) have seen employment declines over the past year, led by Wisconsin’s loss of 16,900 jobs – a decline larger than the other 6 six state’s job losses combined.


While these latest figures are an encouraging sign that a broader economic recovery is underway, unemployment still remains high in many parts of the country.  Three states (California, Nevada, and Rhode Island) continue to have unemployment rates above 10.0 percent, while ten states plus the District of Columbia have rates of 9.0 percent or more. 


State-level economic conditions are always vulnerable to policy choices in Washington, DC.  The Ryan budget proposal and the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ Budget for All offer starkly different paths forward for state economies.  The former would shift health care costs onto states, reduce federal support of state unemployment insurance, and cut funding for critical investments in state infrastructure.  The latter offers a plan that would protect the middle class, provide sound economic stewardship, and maintain the federal support needed for all states to experience a full recovery.