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Across the Board Decreases in State Unemployment Rates
Thursday, August 2, 2012

The release of last month’s state-level unemployment statistics reaffirmed what many economists, including me, have stated: the labor market recovery has been steady and widespread. These numbers aren’t just good news for our economy, they’re impacting the lives of everyday Americans.

We have experienced 28 consecutive months of job growth across all industry sectors, except state and local government. This has led to 4.4 million new jobs in the private sector and a drop in the national unemployment rate by 1.6 percentage points. To put this in perspective, 48 states and the District of Columbia have seen their unemployment rates fall since the start of the recovery. This includes 21 states where the rate has fallen more than 2 percentage points.

Changes in Unemployment Rates by State, Seasonally Adjusted, February 2010 - June 2012. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

So what has this meant for job development in the various sectors across the country? The U.S. auto industry is experiencing an amazing resurgence with workers in Michigan and Ohio going back to the factory floors and getting extra shifts. Overall, manufacturing has added more than 500,000 new jobs since January 2010 – the greatest 29-month streak of job growth since 1995.

In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where high tech regional innovation centers are growing, developments of advanced manufacturing facilities have helped drive the unemployment rates down by 2.0 and 1.2 percentage points respectively.

In states like Florida, California, and Nevada, where the implosion of the housing bubble led to double digit unemployment rates, growth in the hospitality, education and healthcare industries are creating new opportunities for previously unemployed workers. In fact, Secretary Solis recently traveled to northern California to see firsthand how job training programs were preparing laid-off workers for new careers as medical assistants, electricians and culinary artists. As a result of innovative programs such as this, these states have seen their respective unemployment rates drop 2.8, 1.9, and 1.7 percentage points through June.

While we still have more work to do get everyone back to work, these numbers are encouraging and show that the economy is on a continuous recovery at both the national and state levels.

By, Adriana Kugler, Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

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