State Unemployment Rates, 2016

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In May 2016, the national unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, which is the lowest rate in eight years. The unemployment rate was 5 percent when the Great Recession began in December 2007, and it peaked in October 2009 at 10 percent.1

National Analysis

  • From May 2015 to May 2016, the national unemployment rate fell from 5.5 percent to 4.7 percent.
  • From April 2015 to April 2016, total nonfarm payroll employment rose by more than 2.6 million jobs, or nearly 1.9 percent.
  • In 2015, whites had the lowest unemployment rate at 4.6 percent, while the Hispanic unemployment rate was 6.6 percent. African-Americans had the highest unemployment rate at 9.6 percent, but the rate decreased 1.7 percentage points from the previous year.
  • From April 2015 to April 2016, the largest increases in unemployment rates were in Wyoming (up 1.4 percentage points) and Illinois (up 0.7 percentage points). The highest unemployment rates were in Alaska and Illinois at 6.6 percent each.
  • From April 2015 to April 2016, the largest decreases in unemployment rates were in Arkansas and Tennessee, both of which experienced a drop of 1.6 percentage points. The lowest unemployment rates were in South Dakota (2.5 percent) and New Hampshire (2.6 percent).

Midwest

  • In April 2016, CSG’s Midwest region had the lowest average unemployment rate at 4.2 percent.
  • The Midwest, however, was the only region that did not experience a significant decrease in the average unemployment rate from April 2015 to April 2016.
  • Only four of the 11 states saw decreases in their unemployment rates from April 2015 to April 2016: Michigan (down 0.8 percentage points), South Dakota (down 0.7 percentage points), Kansas (down 0.4) and Wisconsin (down 0.2 percentage points).
  • In April 2016, the Midwestern states with the highest unemployment rates were Illinois (6.6 percent), Indiana (5.2 percent) and Ohio (5.2 percent). These were the only three states out of the 11 that had higher unemployment rates than the national rate.
  • In April 2016, the Midwestern states with the lowest unemployment rates were South Dakota (2.5 percent), Nebraska (3.0 percent) and North Dakota (3.2 percent).

East

  • In April 2016, CSG’s East region had the second lowest average unemployment rate (4.4 percent), following the Midwest (4.2 percent).
  • The Eastern states saw the largest decline in average unemployment rate from April 2015 to 2016, with a decline of 0.7 percentage points.
  • Only one state, Pennsylvania, saw a marginal increase in the unemployment rate from April 2015 to April 2016, up by 0.1 percentage points.
  • The other 10 states in the region saw decreases, the largest of which was New Jersey (down 1.3 percentage points) and the smallest was Connecticut (down 0.1 percentage points).
  • In April 2016, the Eastern states with the highest unemployment rates were Connecticut (5.7 percent), Rhode Island (5.4 percent) and Pennsylvania (5.3 percent). These were the only three states out of the 11 that had higher unemployment rates than the national rate.
  • In April 2016, the Eastern states with the lowest unemployment rates were found in the northern-most states: New Hampshire (2.6 percent), Vermont (3.2 percent) and Maine (3.4 percent). 

South

  • In April 2016, CSG’s South region had the highest average unemployment rate at 5.1 percent.
  • The South, however, saw the second largest decrease in the average unemployment rate from April 2015 to April 2016, with a decline of 0.5 percentage points.
  • Only two states saw unemployment rate increases from April 2015 to April 2016: Kentucky (up by 0.1 percentage points) and Oklahoma (up by 0.2 percentage points).
  • In April 2016, the Southern states with the highest unemployment rates were West Virginia (6.4  percent), Louisiana (6.3 percent), Alabama (6.1percent) and Mississippi (6.0 percent). 
  • A majority of the states in the South (eight out of 15) lagged behind the national unemployment rate as of April 2016. The West is the only other region that has a similar majority (seven out of 13).
  • In April 2016, the Southern states with the lowest unemployment rates were Arkansas and Virginia, both at 3.9 percent.

West

  • In April 2016, the CSG West region had the second highest average unemployment rate at 4.85 percent. 
  • The region had a decrease in average unemployment rate between April 2015 and April 2016, but it was the smallest decrease of the three regions that had unemployment rate declines (down 0.3 percentage points).
  • Only five of the 12 states in the West saw their unemployment rates increase: Wyoming (up 1.4 percentage points), Alaska, Montana, Utah and Washington all up by 0.2 percentage points. 
  • In April 2016, the Western states with the highest unemployment rates were Alaska (6.6 percent), New Mexico (6.2 percent), Nevada (5.8 percent) and Washington (5.8 percent). 
  • A majority of the states in the West (seven out of 13) lagged behind the national unemployment rate as of April 2016. The South is the only other region that has a similar majority (eight out of 15).
  • In April 2016, the lowest unemployment rates in the Western region were Colorado (3.1 percent), Hawaii (3.2 percent), Idaho (3.7 percent) and Utah (3.7 percent).

 

REFERENCES
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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