Economy Watch: State Unemployment Rates Mostly Stable in October

Compared with the month before, jobless rates were lower in October in 12 states and higher in only one state, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest jobs report.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Employment and Unemployment, October 2017
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Employment and Unemployment, October 2017

Unemployment, at least at the state level, is mostly stable, which is good news for the wider economy, as well as demand for most kinds of commercial real estate. Compared with the month before, jobless rates were lower in October in 12 states, higher in only one state, and stable in 37 states and the District of Columbia, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Nov. 17.

Hawaii had the lowest unemployment rate in October, coming in at 2.2 percent, followed by North Dakota at 2.5 percent. The rates in Hawaii, Alabama (3.6 percent) and Texas (3.9 percent) set new lows since the BLS started calculating rates in the way it does now, back in 1976. Alaska had the highest jobless rate in October, coming it at 7.2 percent.

For the month, the largest drop in unemployment was in Minnesota, down 0.4 percentage points. The only month-over-month rate increase occurred in North Dakota (0.1 percentage points). For much of the 2010s, oil-rich North and South Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate among the states, but the energy sector has contracted in more recent years.

Twenty-three states enjoyed jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, only two states and D.C. suffered increases, and 25 states saw little or no change. The largest declines occurred in Alabama and Tennessee (down 2.5 percentage points and 2 percentage points, respectively). The only year-over-year rate increases were in D.C. (up 0.8 percentage points), and Alaska and South Dakota (up 0.6 percentage points each).