The State and Regional Employment report for December, released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that—in most states—beneficial trends from 2017 are continuing into early 2018. Between December 2017 and January 2018, unemployment rates in the vast majority of states either held steady or fell, and job growth was positive in the vast majority of states.
Over the past three months, 44 states added jobs, with Utah (1.0 percent), Oregon (0.9 percent), South Carolina (0.8 percent), Montana (0.8 percent), Washington (0.8 percent), and Hawaii (0.8 percent) making the largest percentage job gains. Over that same period, the number of jobs fell in 6 states and the District of Columbia. The largest job losses occurred in North Dakota (-1.4 percent) and Alaska (-0.6 percent).
From October to January, unemployment fell in 14 states and the District of Columbia. Kentucky (-0.3 percentage points), Indiana (-0.2 percentage points), Ohio (-0.2 percentage points), Maine (-0.2 percentage points), and Mississippi (-0.2 percentage points) saw the largest declines in unemployment rates. Over those same months, the unemployment rate increased in 6 states. The increases in unemployment rates occurred in Texas (0.1 percentage points), Missouri (0.1 percentage points), Arizona (0.1 percentage points), South Carolina (0.1 percentage points), Maryland (0.1 percentage points), and Alaska (0.1 percentage points).
“While the past few years have certainly brought some good news for workers, wage growth has been sluggish and unequal, and labor force participation is below where we would expect it to be given recent unemployment rates,” said Schieder. “The next Fed chair should continue the course set by Janet Yellen, keeping interest rates low until the economy has fully recovered.”