Economy Watch: Most States Reaching Full Employment

Unemployment rates were stable in 45 states and D.C. in March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recently reported.
(Click for interactive map on Bureau of Labor Statistics website)

Unemployment rates were lower in March in four states, higher in only one state, and stable in 45 states and the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday, which is more evidence that employment is at or close to full for this cycle. Also, 17 states enjoyed jobless rate decreases from a year earlier and 33 states and the District saw no change.

Hawaii had the lowest unemployment rate in March among the states, coming in at 2.1 percent—essentially full employment. The rates in Kentucky (4 percent) and Maine (2.7 percent) are new lows since the BLS started its current series of unemployment statistics by state in 1976. Alaska had the highest jobless rate in March, coming in at 7.3 percent.

All together, 17 states had unemployment rates lower than the U.S. figure of 4.1 percent in March, while nine states and the District of Columbia had higher rates. Twenty-four states experienced rates that were about the same as the national rate.

In March, only four states had unemployment rate decreases for the month: Maine and New Mexico (each down 0.2 percentage points) and Ohio and Wyoming (down 0.1 percentage points each). The only month-over-month rate increase was in Maryland, up 0.1 percentage points. Compared with a year ago, 17 states had unemployment rate changes, all of which were decreases. The largest declines occurred in Alabama, Kentucky and Louisiana, which were down 1.2 percentage points each.