Economic Indicators | Jobs and Unemployment

Apparent good news a mirage for many states

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Data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 43 states saw a decline in unemployment rates between October and November.  However, mirroring national trends reported earlier this month, unemployment rate reductions in several states (16 of the 43 states showing a decline in the unemployment rate) were in part a reflection of reduced state labor forces, as unemployed workers dropped out of the labor force.  And in virtually every state, any positive progress represents just one small step towards economic recovery. (See interactive maps below.)

This month’s data show that seven states and the District of Columbia continue to struggle with unemployment rates at or above 10.0 percent (led by Nevada at 13.0 percent, California at 11.3 percent and the District of Columbia at 10.6 percent), while 15 states plus the District of Columbia have unemployment rates of 9.0 percent or higher.

The Midwest region has suffered significant job loss in recent months, with a decline of over 34,000 jobs since August.  Minnesota (-22,900) and Wisconsin (-28,000) have both seen large employment declines over this period.

With states creeping toward recovery, Congress must not pursue policies that reverse those modest gains.  Instead, extending unemployment benefits and the payroll tax cut can help states that are struggling to make meaningful employment gains.

See more work by Doug Hall