A Closer Look at Unemployment

Source: BLS
Source: BLS


This is a fascinating chart from the Bureau Labor Statistics looking at the state-by-state unemployment rates. We know the national jobless rate is down to 6.3 percent and this chart lets us see how that is distributed nationally.

At the BLS site, and you can click through the chart and see unemployment rates over the past decade or you can mouse over any state and a pop-up tells you what the state’s unemployment rate is.

The states with the highest unemployment rate are Nevada (8 percent) and Rhode Island (8.3 percent). Nevada was hit especially hard by the housing collapse and Rhode Island has been fighting a loss of manufacturing industries, fishing and tourism woes, high taxes and a state government some observers have described as corrupt. Illinois comes in third (7.9 percent) — its deficit issues and pension headaches are well known — and California is fourth (7.8 percent).

On the other end of the spectrum there are a handful of Midwestern states enjoying the benefits of a huge energy boom. Oil and natural gas have driven unemployment down to 2.6 percent in North Dakota — the lowest in the nation. Nebraska (3.6 percent), Wyoming (3.7 percent), South Dakota (3.8 percent), and Utah (3.8 percent) round out the well-employed region.

There’s no oil in Vermont, but at 3.3 percent, it has the second-lowest unemployment rate in the nation. The state’s ski areas, and leisure and hospitality industry are benefiting from the improving economies in nearby Boston and New York City.

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