Economy Watch: Majority of States See Unemployment Rate Drops, as Does Thanksgiving Travel; U.S. Awaits Data on Housing Starts

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that 28 states had unemployment rate decreases in October compared to September, fewer than last year. Meanwhile, this week will see a decrease from last year's peak in Thanksgiving travel despite lower gas prices, and statisticians are still playing catch-up with housing

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that 28 states had unemployment rate decreases in October compared to September, while 11 states and the District of Columbia saw increases and 11 states experienced no change. Compared with a year ago, 38 states enjoyed unemployment rate decreases; 10 states and the District of Columbia suffered increases, while two states saw no change.

Florida created the greatest number of jobs in October, coming in at 44,600. California was next with 39,800, and North Carolina was third with 22,200. On the other end of the spectrum, Kentucky lost the most jobs, at 12,600. Washington state, New Jersey and Virginia suffered the next highest losses.

Nevada remained the state with the highest unemployment rate in October, an unwanted distinction it’s had for a number of years, coming in at 9.3 percent. The next highest rates were in Rhode Island (9.2 percent) and Michigan (9 percent). North Dakota continued to have the lowest jobless rate, at 2.7 percent.

Fewer Americans Hitting the Road for Thanksgiving

AAA predicted last week that 43.4 million Americans will journey 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, a decrease of 1.5 percent from 2012. If that occurs, it will mean that last Thanksgiving reached a four-year peak in travel since the recession-driven declines in 2008-2009, when Thanksgiving travel was off by a whopping 25 percent.

This year, the Thanksgiving holiday travel period is Nov. 27 to Dec. 1, according to the organization. Median spending among travelers during that period is expected to drop nearly 7 percent compared to last year, to $465. Thanksgiving is typically a less expensive holiday for travelers compared to other holidays. This year AAA put Labor Day spending at $804 on average, Independence Day at $749 and Memorial Day at $659.

AAA also estimates that most drivers will pay the cheapest gas prices for the Thanksgiving holiday since 2010. Currently, the national average is at the lowest level of the year, and the price should continue to drop in the weeks ahead, with drivers finding stations selling gas for less than $3 per gallon in most markets.

Housing Starts Numbers Delayed Again

The Census Bureau said on Friday that its September and October new housing start numbers, which were originally scheduled for release on Oct. 17 and Nov. 19, respectively, will be released on Dec. 18, along with the November numbers. Previously, the bureau had announced that the September and October data would be out on Nov. 26 (Tuesday), but the impact of the government shutdown is apparently still echoing through the bureau’s statisticians.

Or as the bureau put it: “Accurate data collection for September and October could not be completed in time for the Nov. 26 release.” It will, however, release the numbers on new housing permits for the missing two months on Tuesday.

Wall Street turned in a positive day on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average gaining 54.78 points, or 0.34 percent. The S&P 500 advanced 0.5 percent, and the Nasdaq was up 0.57 percent.