State Unemployment Rates Mostly Steady in July


The US Bureau of Labor Statistics today released its data on state and regional unemployment for July. Compared with June 2012 data, unemployment rates rose in 44 states, with 2 states and the District of Columbia posting drops in unemployment rates and 4 states had no change.

Compared with July 2011, the data looks a little better: 44 states and D.C. registered decreases in the unemployment rate, while 4 showed increases and 2 were unchanged. The unemployment rate in July was 8.3%, a drop of 0.8% from the July 2011 total.

The two states showing the largest month-over-month gains in unemployment were Alabama and Alaska, each seeing a rise of 0.5%. Another three states - Connecticut, Michigan, and Nevada - posted rises of 0.4%. The unemployment rate increases that hit 44 states could be evidence of a broad-based decline in US jobs.

The better news is that only three states continue to post double-digit unemployment rates - Nevada, Rhode Island, and California. New Jersey, at 9.8% unemployment is close though. This is the lowest number since January 2009. Only two states, New York and New Jersey, had higher unemployment rates in July, although both states' rates were at a post-recession peak.

Month-over-month job gains were highest in California, which added 25,200 jobs in July. Michigan and Virginia each added more than 21,000 jobs, while New Jersey lost 12,000 and Alaska lost 3,400.

Year-over-year, only Rhode Island posted a statistically significant loss of jobs, seeing 7,300 jobs disappear. California has added 365,100 jobs since July 2011, Texas has added 222,500, New York has added 113,300, and Ohio has added 100,300 to lead in job gains.

So, we're better off than we were a year ago, but employment gains are painfully slow and move backwards as often as they move forward. It's also possible that more unemployed workers are re-entering the labor market as job openings and payroll numbers start rising.

Paul Ausick

Filed under: 24/7 Wall St. Wire, Economy, Research