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Unemployment Rates Down in 32 U.S. States

In 2017, annual average unemployment rates decreased in 32 states and were little changed or…

  • March 21, 2018

In 2017, annual average unemployment rates decreased in 32 states and were little changed or unchanged in 18 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Employment-population ratios increased in 12 states, decreased in 2 states, and were little changed or unchanged in 36 states and the District.

The U.S. jobless rate declined by 0.5 percentage point from the prior year to 4.4 percent, and the national employment-population ratio rose by 0.4 point to 60.1 percent.

All four census regions had unemployment rate decreases from 2016: the Midwest, South, and West (-0.6 percentage point each) and the Northeast (-0.3 point).

The Midwest had the lowest jobless rate, 4.1 percent in 2017. No other region had a rate significantly different from that of the U.S. The West recorded the lowest unemployment rate in its series, 4.5 percent.

Alabama, Wyoming Enjoy the Largest Declines

Thirty-two states had statistically significant unemployment rate decreases in 2017. The largest decline occurred in Alabama (-1.5 percentage points), followed by Wyoming (-1.1 points) and Tennessee (-1.0 point).

The remaining 18 states and the District of Columbia had annual average jobless rates in 2017 that were not appreciably different from those of the previous year, though some had changes that were at least as large numerically as the significant changes.

Hawaii and North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rates in 2017, 2.4 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively. Alaska had the highest jobless rate, 7.2 percent, followed by New Mexico, 6.2 percent.

The District of Columbia had a rate of 6.1 percent. Overall, 20 states had unemployment rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 4.4 percent, 12 states and the District had higher rates, and 18 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Seven states recorded the lowest unemployment rates in their series in 2017: Arkansas (3.7 percent), California (4.8 percent), Hawaii (2.4 percent), Maine (3.3 percent), North Dakota (2.6 percent), Oregon (4.1 percent), and Tennessee (3.7 percent).

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