Some States are Actually Gaining Jobs!
It's no surprise that 39 states lost jobs last month, but what might provide a glimmer of hope is the fact that employment actually increased in 11 states and the District of Columbia, led by Virginia, which added 9,500 jobs. It's not a lot, but at least it's something.
Oklahoma had the next highest job increase with 5,000, followed by Oregon (+2,900), New Hampshire and Washington (+2,000 each). Hawaii also added jobs, according to the latest numbers released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Unfortunately, the losers outnumber the gainers. California lost the most jobs, down 38,800. The "Golden State" was followed by Texas (-23,900), Ohio (-16,700), Illinois (-16,300), Michigan (-15,700), Wisconsin (-15,200), and Georgia (-15,100).
Regionally speaking, the West had the highest jobless rate in December, at 10.7 percent. The Northeast recorded the lowest rate, which was 9.2 percent. Over the year, all four regions registered significant jobless rate increases, the largest of which was in the West (+3.3 percentage points). This is one instance where a plus sign (+) is not good. Especially since these numbers are "seasonally adjusted," and take into account holiday hiring, balancing it with the extreme cold weather we've been having in so many states.
State by State Unemployment Rates
Among the individual states, Michigan again recorded the highest unemployment rate--14.6 percent in December. The states with the next highest rates were Nevada, 13.0 percent; Rhode Island, 12.9 percent; and South Carolina, 12.6 percent. On the positive side, North Dakota continued to register the lowest jobless rate, 4.4 percent in December, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota, 4.7 percent each. South Dakota actually saw a statistically significant unemployment rate decrease from November.
But alas, all states and the District of Columbia recorded significant increases in their jobless rates from a year ago in December 2008. The largest of these increases were in Nevada and West Virginia (+4.6 percentage points each), closely followed by Alabama (+4.5 points) and Michigan (+4.4 points). The smallest rate increases occurred in Minnesota and Nebraska (+0.8 percentage point each).
The good news, if we can find any here, is that unemployment isn't increasing as dramatically as it has in the past. Not that's it's actually decreasing, but at least it's not a free fall. Look for legislation in the coming months that should finally start to remedy the situation. We'll keep you posted.