Economy Watch: Most States Still Making Progress on Job Creation

The national unemployment rate was at a healthy 5 percent at year-end 2015, but results become more mixed when looking at individual states.

The national unemployment rate as of December is a relatively healthy 5 percent, 0.6 percentage points lower than a year earlier, but more localized patterns of employment tend to have a greater impact on real estate markets. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Jan. 26 that 25 states had unemployment rate decreases from November, 14 states suffered increases, and 11 states and Washington, D.C. experienced no change.

The largest month-over-month increases in employment occurred in California (up 60,400 jobs), Texas (up 24,900) and Florida (up 21,900). The largest monthly declines in employment occurred in Illinois (with a loss of 16,300 jobs), Oklahoma (down 5,100) and North Dakota (down 4,000).

Compared with a year ago, the overall news is better: 42 states and D.C. enjoyed unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, while only eight states had increases. Year-over-year, the largest significant job increase occurred in California (up 459,400 jobs), followed by Florida (up 233,100) and Texas (up 166,900).

North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in December, coming in at 2.7 percent, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota, at 2.9 percent each. New Mexico had the highest rate (6.7 percent). Among the 10 largest states by population, California and Illinois had the highest unemployment rates at 5.8 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively.