The latest regional job report from the U.S. Department of Labor revealed that total nonfarm employment increased in five states in August, decreased in one state (Oklahoma), and was essentially unchanged everywhere else. The largest gains last month occurred in California, Florida, and Georgia, but Florida was also a standout in terms of annual payrolls growth. This, as with other states experiencing strong year-over-year gains, is in part often a reflection of a favorable tax and regulatory environment because such conditions are supportive of the stream of residential, commercial, and infrastructure projects that entice businesses to a region. These firms ultimately become new local job creators that attract more Americans to an area and contribute to a state’s relative economic outperformance.
As for joblessness, the unemployment rate declined in five states in August and increased in three states. The rates of joblessness set new record lows in Alabama (3.1 percent), Alaska (6.2 percent), Illinois (4.0 percent), Maine (2.9 percent), and New Jersey (3.2 percent) in August, and Vermont once again had the lowest unemployment rate in the country (2.1 percent). Only eight states last month had a rate of joblessness that was higher than the national level (3.7 percent). For an additional comparison, during the worst part of the “Great Recession” eleven states had an unemployment rate that exceeded 11 percent, while the highest rate of joblessness in the entire country last month was just 6.2 percent (Alaska). A more detailed look at the employment landscape in America can be found in our Labor Market Snapshot, one of a growing series of economic reports we update regularly.
Sources: U.S. DoL, Calculated Risk