State Unemployment Rates Improve in September

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The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) today released its data on state and regional unemployment for September. Compared with August date, unemployment rates fell in 41 states and the District of Columbia, while 6 states posted higher unemployment rates and 3 were unchanged.

Compared with September 2011, the data is slightly worse. In that month, 44 states and the District of Columbia showed a drop in unemployment rates and six states posted gains. The good news is that the national unemployment rate has fallen from 9% in September 2011 to 7.2% this past September.

The two states showing the largest month-over-month job losses were in Oregon and Wyoming, each posting an increase of 0.5% in unemployment. Year-over-year, the largest rise in unemployment occurred in New Mexico and West Virginia, where unemployment rates rose by 1.3%.

In September, no state reported a statistically significant year-over-year unemployment rate increase, while 20 states and the District of Columbia registered statistically significant job gains. The largest year-over-year decline in unemployment came in Nevada, down by 1.8%, followed by Florida and the District of Columbia, each down 1.7%.

Month-over-month job gains were highest in Texas, which added 21,000 jobs in September. Pennsylvania added 17,800 jobs in September and the District of Columbia added 14,200, while Michigan lost 13,000 and Ohio lost 12,800 jobs.

Year-over-year, only West Virginia posted a statistically significant loss of jobs, seeing 10,000 jobs disappear. Texas has added 262,700 since September 2011, California has added 262,000 jobs, New York has added 125,000, and Ohio has added 88,700 to lead in job gains.

The job losses in West Virginia are almost certainly due to shutdowns and production slowdowns at some of the state's coal mines.

As the November elections draw nearer, states that could have a decisive effect on the outcome will be more closely watched than ever because employment data figures to play a significant role in election results. Because unemployment rates did not rise month-over-month in any state, this report probably gives support to President Obama's re-election chances.

The BLS data is available here.

Paul Ausick

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