December’s state employment data released this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics continues the path of slow but steady improvement for most states that characterized 2013. From September 2013 to December 2013, 39 states saw gains in employment, with California (+98,000), Florida (+70,700), and Texas (+51,800) experiencing the largest net increases in jobs. Nevada, Wyoming, and North Dakota led employment gains as a percentage of jobs gained, each recording gains exceeding 1.0 percent. During the same period, 11 states and the District of Columbia lost jobs.
From September 2013 to December 2013, unemployment rates declined in 46 states and the District of Columbia rose in two states (Hawaii and New Hampshire) and remained unchanged in two states.
The Midwest and West both experienced unemployment rate decreases of 0.5 percentage points between August and November, while the South and the Northeast both saw a decrease of 0.6 percentage points.
In December, Rhode Island’s 9.1 percent unemployment rate was the highest., while twenty states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rates above the national average of 6.7 percent. In contrast, ten states maintained unemployment rates below the pre-recession national average of 5.0 percent.
Working families are seeing continued signs of hope, but for too many families, the slogging pace of this recovery continues to leave its mark. Policymakers need to help—rather than hinder—economic recovery. While the President is expected to signal positive economic measures in the State of The Union address, national legislators have thus far failed to undo their most recent act of economic sabotage, the termination of extended unemployment benefits.