Economic Indicators

April’s state jobs report shows slowing improvement across the country

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Regional and State Employment and Unemployment report for April today, which mirrors a disappointing jobs report at the national level for April. The decline of unemployment rates across most of the country has been decelerating, with fewer states seeing their unemployment rates drop—much like how the national unemployment rate has stalled at 5.0 percent. In April 2016, the U.S. economy added just 160,000 jobs, the smallest gain since September 2015. California and Florida made up over three-fifths of those jobs gained in April.

From January 2016 to April 2016, 27 states and the District of Columbia experienced declines in their unemployment rates, while 18 states had their unemployment rates rise. The states with the largest declines in their unemployment rates were Tennessee (-1.1 percentage points), Oregon (-0.6 percentage points), and Mississippi (-0.7 percentage points). States with the largest increases in their unemployment rates were Wyoming (+0.8 percentage points), Pennsylvania (+0.7 percentage points), and Indiana (+0.6 percentage points). Five states experienced no change.

From January 2016 to April 2016, 42 states and the District of Columbia added jobs. The largest gains occurred in Utah (+1.1 percent), followed by Massachusetts, Missouri, Washington (all +1.0 percent), and Georgia (+0.9 percent). Of the seven states that lost jobs, the hardest hit states continue to be energy dependent states like Wyoming (-1.5 percent), North Dakota (-1.3 percent), and Alaska (-0.7 percent).

Unemployment

Unemployment rate by state, April 2016

State Percentage point change since December 2007 Percentage point change last 3 months Unemployment rate, April 2016
Alabama 1.7 -0.1 6.1%
Alaska 0.2 0.0 6.6%
Arizona 1.1 -0.1 5.5%
Arkansas -1.3 -0.5 3.9%
California -0.7 -0.4 5.3%
Colorado -1.0 -0.1 3.1%
Connecticut 0.8 0.2 5.7%
Delaware 0.5 -0.5 4.2%
DC 0.7 -0.1 6.4%
Florida -0.1 -0.3 4.8%
Georgia 0.4 0.1 5.5%
Hawaii 0.0 0.0 3.2%
Idaho 0.5 -0.2 3.7%
Illinois 1.1 0.3 6.6%
Indiana 0.4 0.6 5.2%
Iowa 0.2 0.4 3.9%
Kansas -0.5 -0.2 3.8%
Kentucky -0.2 -0.5 5.3%
Louisiana 2.2 0.4 6.3%
Maine -1.5 -0.4 3.4%
Maryland 1.2 -0.2 4.6%
Massachusetts -0.4 -0.5 4.2%
Michigan -2.5 -0.1 4.8%
Minnesota -0.9 0.1 3.8%
Mississippi 0.1 -0.7 6.0%
Missouri -1.1 0.1 4.3%
Montana 0.0 0.1 4.2%
Nebraska 0.0 0.0 3.0%
Nevada 0.7 -0.4 5.8%
New Hampshire -0.9 -0.3 2.6%
New Jersey 0.1 0.2 4.7%
New Mexico 2.2 -0.3 6.2%
New York 0.0 0.0 4.9%
North Carolina 0.4 -0.2 5.4%
North Dakota 0.1 0.4 3.2%
Ohio -0.5 0.3 5.2%
Oklahoma 0.9 0.4 4.5%
Oregon -0.8 -0.6 4.5%
Pennsylvania 0.5 0.7 5.3%
Rhode Island -0.8 -0.1 5.3%
South Carolina 0.1 0.3 5.8%
South Dakota -0.2 -0.3 2.5%
Tennessee -1.2 -1.1 4.3%
Texas 0.1 -0.1 4.4%
Utah 0.7 0.3 3.7%
Vermont -1.0 -0.2 3.2%
Virginia 0.4 -0.2 3.9%
Washington 1.0 0.0 5.8%
West Virginia 1.7 0.1 6.4%
Wisconsin -0.4 -0.2 4.4%
Wyoming 2.7 0.8 5.5%
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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– April 2016

State Total employment, April 2016 Percent change since December 2007 Change since December 2007 Percent change last 3 months Change last 3 months Percent change since December 2007
Alabama 1,965,600 -2.4% -49,300 10,500 0.5% -2.4%
Alaska 336,700 5.9% 18,700 -2,500 -0.7% 5.9%
Arizona 2,697,200 0.7% 17,800 14,100 0.5% 0.7%
Arkansas 1,225,100 1.4% 17,500 2,200 0.2% 1.4%
California 16,381,500 5.9% 909,000 111,400 0.7% 5.9%
Colorado 2,593,800 10.4% 243,300 11,500 0.4% 10.4%
Connecticut 1,689,800 -0.9% -15,500 8,600 0.5% -0.9%
Delaware 460,000 4.4% 19,400 2,500 0.5% 4.4%
DC 777,400 11.0% 77,300 2,200 0.3% 11.0%
Florida 8,283,900 4.4% 352,100 48,100 0.6% 4.4%
Georgia 4,371,300 4.8% 201,000 41,100 0.9% 4.8%
Hawaii 646,500 2.9% 18,500 2,200 0.3% 2.9%
Idaho 694,700 5.8% 38,200 5,500 0.8% 5.8%
Illinois 6,012,100 0.4% 26,900 36,400 0.6% 0.4%
Indiana 3,073,100 2.7% 80,000 7,700 0.3% 2.7%
Iowa 1,580,800 3.7% 55,900 200 0.0% 3.7%
Kansas 1,395,500 0.6% 8,700 -2,300 -0.2% 0.6%
Kentucky 1,904,900 2.5% 47,100 0 0.0% 2.5%
Louisiana 1,978,500 2.2% 43,000 -4,700 -0.2% 2.2%
Maine 612,700 -1.3% -8,000 -1,900 -0.3% -1.3%
Maryland 2,704,800 3.6% 92,900 20,700 0.8% 3.6%
Massachusetts 3,551,000 7.0% 232,600 34,400 1.0% 7.0%
Michigan 4,330,700 2.0% 85,300 23,300 0.5% 2.0%
Minnesota 2,891,800 4.3% 120,500 21,100 0.7% 4.3%
Mississippi 1,144,500 -1.4% -15,800 4,400 0.4% -1.4%
Missouri 2,816,200 0.5% 13,800 27,100 1.0% 0.5%
Montana 466,600 4.5% 20,100 4,200 0.9% 4.5%
Nebraska 1,017,400 5.1% 49,700 1,100 0.1% 5.1%
Nevada 1,283,100 -0.7% -8,800 9,600 0.8% -0.7%
New Hampshire 663,500 2.0% 13,100 2,600 0.4% 2.0%
New Jersey 4,066,400 -0.4% -17,200 9,300 0.2% -0.4%
New Mexico 827,600 -2.5% -21,500 1,100 0.1% -2.5%
New York 9,343,300 6.6% 575,000 44,800 0.5% 6.6%
North Carolina 4,311,500 3.4% 143,700 15,400 0.4% 3.4%
North Dakota 439,900 21.5% 77,900 -5,600 -1.3% 21.5%
Ohio 5,477,800 1.1% 58,200 12,500 0.2% 1.1%
Oklahoma 1,663,600 3.6% 57,300 -4,000 -0.2% 3.6%
Oregon 1,828,900 5.3% 91,400 16,900 0.9% 5.3%
Pennsylvania 5,877,700 1.1% 66,200 22,600 0.4% 1.1%
Rhode Island 489,100 0.3% 1,300 1,200 0.2% 0.3%
South Carolina 2,040,500 4.7% 913,00 11,800 0.6% 4.7%
South Dakota 432,100 5.8% 238,00 600 0.1% 5.8%
Tennessee 2,953,000 5.3% 1,475,00 600 0.0% 5.3%
Texas 11,969,900 13.7% 1,441,400 7,600 0.1% 13.7%
Utah 1,414,100 11.8% 1,489,00 14,800 1.1% 11.8%
Vermont 317,200 2.8% 8,700 900 0.3% 2.8%
Virginia 3,907,100 3.4% 130,100 5,600 0.1% 3.4%
Washington 3,241,700 8.1% 244,000 32,400 1.0% 8.1%
West Virginia 761,200 -0.7% -5,200 1,900 0.3% -0.7%
Wisconsin 2,923,600 1.6% 46,000 12,300 0.4% 1.6%
Wyoming 281,700 -4.2% -12,400 -4,200 -1.5% -4.2%
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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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The last year and a half has been difficult for states where energy industries make up a significant portion of their economies. North Dakota is unique among this group of states though, because much of the state’s energy production was recently developed in the wake of discoveries of shale gas reserves there and recent years’ economic growth has seemingly been uniquely driven by the energy sector. As a result, the state saw a dramatic rise in employment, by more than 27 percent from 2010 to 2015 (as seen in Figure C). As energy prices fell North Dakota’s employment has correspondingly declined substantially, by 6 percent between January 2015 and April 2016. Other energy states already had preexisting energy production and did not see the dramatic rise that North Dakota experienced in recent years. Some of those states, like Texas and Pennsylvania, have also diversified their economies enough to withstand the blow from suffering energy industries. What this ultimately means is that although all energy states will continue to hurt from low energy prices, North Dakota is likely to endure a far steeper decline in their economy and employment because such a large share of its employment boom was due to the nascent energy industry there. This volatility can leave long-lasting scars, as infrastructure built to accommodate this industry’s sudden ascent could be just as easily abandoned.

Figure C

Percent change in total employment across energy-intensive states during the economic recovery, June 2009–April 2016

Date Alaska North Dakota Pennsylvania Texas West Virginia Wyoming
2009-06-01 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
2009-07-01 0.0% -0.2% -0.3% -0.3% -0.8% -0.7%
2009-08-01 0.0% -0.2% -0.4% -0.6% -0.7% -1.2%
2009-09-01 0.1% 0.2% -0.5% -0.6% -1.3% -1.0%
2009-10-01 0.3% 0.2% -0.4% -0.7% -1.2% -1.7%
2009-11-01 0.1% 0.2% -0.4% -0.7% -1.2% -1.8%
2009-12-01 -0.1% 0.4% -0.4% -0.7% -0.9% -2.0%
2010-01-01 0.2% 0.4% -0.5% -0.5% -1.0% -1.9%
2010-02-01 0.1% 0.7% -0.7% -0.4% -1.4% -1.8%
2010-03-01 0.3% 1.1% -0.3% -0.1% -0.8% -1.6%
2010-04-01 0.8% 2.1% 0.0% 0.0% -0.8% -1.1%
2010-05-01 1.1% 2.2% 0.5% 0.7% 0.9% -0.7%
2010-06-01 1.6% 2.1% 0.5% 0.7% 0.3% -0.8%
2010-07-01 0.2% 2.4% 0.4% 0.6% 0.1% -0.6%
2010-08-01 0.2% 2.7% 0.6% 0.7% -0.2% -0.2%
2010-09-01 0.3% 2.9% 0.4% 0.6% -0.4% 0.3%
2010-10-01 0.6% 3.9% 0.8% 1.2% -0.2% 0.5%
2010-11-01 0.8% 4.2% 0.9% 1.2% -0.3% 0.1%
2010-12-01 1.0% 4.7% 1.0% 1.5% -0.5% 0.0%
2011-01-01 1.2% 5.0% 1.1% 1.6% -0.6% 0.0%
2011-02-01 0.8% 5.3% 1.1% 1.7% -0.2% 0.1%
2011-03-01 0.9% 5.9% 1.3% 2.0% -0.1% 0.4%
2011-04-01 1.0% 6.3% 1.5% 2.4% 0.3% 0.5%
2011-05-01 0.9% 6.8% 1.4% 2.5% 0.3% 0.7%
2011-06-01 1.3% 7.0% 1.5% 2.7% -0.1% 0.9%
2011-07-01 1.5% 8.0% 1.4% 3.0% 0.2% 1.3%
2011-08-01 1.4% 8.7% 1.4% 3.2% 0.5% 1.9%
2011-09-01 2.0% 9.8% 1.6% 3.3% 1.1% 2.1%
2011-10-01 2.1% 10.2% 1.6% 3.3% 1.4% 2.0%
2011-11-01 2.2% 11.1% 1.7% 3.5% 1.5% 2.2%
2011-12-01 2.2% 12.3% 1.8% 3.8% 1.8% 2.3%
2012-01-01 2.6% 13.5% 1.9% 4.2% 2.0% 2.3%
2012-02-01 2.7% 14.3% 2.1% 4.4% 2.2% 2.4%
2012-03-01 3.0% 15.2% 2.5% 4.8% 2.3% 2.5%
2012-04-01 2.9% 16.2% 2.2% 5.1% 2.1% 2.9%
2012-05-01 3.2% 16.6% 2.2% 5.4% 3.3% 2.3%
2012-06-01 3.0% 17.3% 2.0% 5.6% 1.3% 1.9%
2012-07-01 2.8% 17.9% 2.0% 5.8% 1.2% 1.8%
2012-08-01 2.8% 18.0% 2.0% 6.2% 1.1% 2.1%
2012-09-01 3.1% 18.3% 2.2% 6.5% 1.8% 2.0%
2012-10-01 4.5% 18.3% 2.2% 6.8% 1.8% 1.9%
2012-11-01 3.7% 17.8% 2.2% 7.1% 1.6% 2.0%
2012-12-01 3.5% 18.6% 2.2% 7.3% 1.7% 2.2%
2013-01-01 3.3% 19.1% 2.2% 7.4% 1.9% 2.3%
2013-02-01 3.5% 19.8% 2.4% 7.9% 2.0% 2.2%
2013-03-01 3.5% 20.1% 2.6% 8.2% 1.8% 2.3%
2013-04-01 3.6% 19.6% 2.3% 8.4% 1.8% 2.4%
2013-05-01 3.1% 20.5% 2.4% 8.5% 1.8% 2.5%
2013-06-01 3.6% 21.1% 2.2% 8.8% 1.6% 2.8%
2013-07-01 3.4% 21.3% 2.3% 9.1% 1.6% 2.3%
2013-08-01 3.8% 21.6% 2.5% 9.3% 1.6% 2.4%
2013-09-01 3.7% 22.3% 2.5% 9.7% 1.4% 2.2%
2013-10-01 3.6% 22.3% 2.5% 9.8% 1.4% 2.4%
2013-11-01 3.5% 22.7% 2.6% 10.1% 1.7% 2.4%
2013-12-01 3.8% 22.5% 2.5% 10.2% 1.5% 2.5%
2014-01-01 3.8% 23.0% 2.7% 10.5% 1.2% 2.8%
2014-02-01 3.7% 23.6% 2.6% 10.9% 1.1% 2.9%
2014-03-01 3.7% 24.0% 2.8% 11.2% 1.2% 3.0%
2014-04-01 4.3% 24.5% 3.1% 11.6% 1.5% 3.5%
2014-05-01 4.2% 25.0% 3.2% 12.0% 2.7% 3.9%
2014-06-01 3.8% 25.7% 3.3% 12.2% 0.2% 4.1%
2014-07-01 4.0% 26.6% 3.3% 12.5% 0.6% 3.9%
2014-08-01 3.8% 26.6% 3.4% 12.8% 0.9% 3.9%
2014-09-01 3.6% 26.8% 3.5% 13.1% 1.4% 4.0%
2014-10-01 4.3% 27.4% 3.6% 13.6% 1.8% 4.3%
2014-11-01 4.1% 27.5% 3.8% 14.0% 1.9% 3.9%
2014-12-01 4.4% 27.5% 3.9% 14.3% 1.7% 4.2%
2015-01-01 4.8% 27.1% 3.8% 14.5% 1.7% 4.3%
2015-02-01 4.7% 26.4% 3.9% 14.7% 1.4% 4.1%
2015-03-01 4.7% 25.6% 3.7% 14.5% 1.0% 3.9%
2015-04-01 4.8% 24.7% 3.9% 14.6% 1.0% 3.5%
2015-05-01 5.1% 24.0% 4.0% 14.8% 1.0% 2.9%
2015-06-01 4.4% 23.5% 4.0% 14.9% 0.7% 2.4%
2015-07-01 4.5% 23.4% 4.1% 15.2% 0.4% 2.6%
2015-08-01 4.1% 22.6% 4.3% 15.4% 0.2% 2.3%
2015-09-01 4.3% 22.0% 4.3% 15.5% 0.2% 2.3%
2015-10-01 4.5% 22.4% 4.6% 15.7% 0.3% 2.3%
2015-11-01 4.1% 22.0% 4.5% 15.9% 0.3% 1.9%
2015-12-01 4.5% 21.2% 4.7% 16.0% 0.4% 1.4%
2016-01-01 4.5% 21.4% 4.5% 16.3% 0.1% 1.2%
2016-02-01 4.6% 20.2% 4.8% 16.4% 0.0% 1.0%
2016-03-01 4.2% 19.9% 5.2% 16.3% 0.4% 0.6%
2016-04-01 3.7% 19.9% 4.9% 16.4% 0.3% -0.3%
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Note: Percent changes in employment are based off of total nonfarm employment.

Source: EPI analysis of BLS Current Employment Statistics

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The overall underwhelming jobs report in April again reinforces the fact that we are far from a full recovery and the Fed should therefore hold off on raising interest rates. Across almost every relevant indicator of productivity and labor compensation, growth has returned to a sluggish rate while concerns about preventing asset bubbles also fail to justify any rate increase. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been taking important steps to restore labor standards such as the right to overtime protections as well as combat abusive non-compete agreements, steps that are integral to boosting workers’ pay and protecting their work-life balance.

See more work by Will Kimball