Unemployment May Be Down, But Many States Are Losing Jobs

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Even as March showed a big slowdown in job growth, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier this month, hourly wages were up 0.3 percent and the unemployment rate was steady at 5.5 percent.But whether unemployment will stay steady at that level is a question. Even as job growth has slowed, 31 states saw net job cuts in March, according to the Associated Press. Unemployment rates fell in 23 states and were either steady or had grown in 27 states. That could mean pressure on unemployment rates going forward.

Not all the shifts may be significant. The BLS said that only 14 states had "significant unemployment rate changes" between February 2015 and March 2015. Of them, the unemployment rate went up in four of the states -- Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia -- and went down in Arizona, California, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

But that will be little condolence in the seven states that had month-over-month statistically significant changes in the numbers of jobs:
  • Arkansas, -6,700
  • California, +39,800
  • Florida, +30,600
  • Massachusetts, +10,500
  • Missouri, -10,300
  • New Mexico, -4,500
  • North Dakota, -3,000
  • Oklahoma, -12,900
  • Texas, -25,400
  • Washington, +10,500
  • West Virginia, -4,800
Some of the states, like Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, were hit hard by low oil prices. As AOL Jobs has previously reported, inexpensive oil and natural gas prices have hurt many in the industry, even as consumers have rejoiced in prices at the pump that are far lower than they were a year ago. More than sufficient supply makes much U.S. production too expensive to currently bring to market. That means layoffs, with an estimated 100,000 people having seen their positions cut.

With lower job growth, the impact on society and the economy is more obvious than when many more job additions masked the effect.

The slowdown and job losses in some major states have again raised the question of whether the Fed should increase interest rates, according to the New York Times.
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