Economy Watch: State Unemployment Rates Stuck in Neutral; RE Billionaires Well Represented on Forbes List

Employment didn’t make much of a move along the States in August. And Forbes published the latest version of its Forbes 400 list, tracking the 400 wealthiest Americans, which included seven real estate moguls on the list, including Donald Trump.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Friday that 18 states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate increases, 17 states experienced decreases, and 15 states saw no change in August compared with July. That is, employment didn’t make much of a move along the states in August. Compared with a year ago, however, 36 states saw a drop in unemployment, 12 suffered a rise, and two didn’t budge in August.

Nevada continues to be vexed by the nation’s highest unemployment rate among the states, coming in at 9.5 percent. The next highest rate was in Illinois, at 9.2 percent. Energy-boom North Dakota continued to have the lowest jobless rate, at only 3 percent. All together, 15 states had jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. August figure of 7.3 percent, while 11 states and DC had measurably higher rates, and 24 states had rates not much different from that of the nation.

The largest month-over-month increases in employment among the states occurred in New York (up 30,400 jobs) and California (up 29,100). The largest drop in employment happened in Georgia, which lost 16,100 jobs during August. Ohio and Arizona lost 8,200 and 7,900 jobs, respectively.

Real Estate Billionaires Well Represented on Forbes List

Last week Forbes published the latest version of its Forbes 400 list, which tracks the 400 wealthiest Americans. Unsurprisingly, Bill Gates came in first, with net assets of about $79 billion (roughly the same as the 2012 GDP of Ecuador, according to the IMF, to give some perspective), while Warren Buffett came in second, with $58.5 billion in assets.

As for real estate billionaires, the top among that crew remained Donald Bren, chairman of the Irvine Co., with a fortune of $14 billion. In fact, Bren’s net worth increased since this time last year by roughly $1 billion, as the valuation of the Irvine Co.’s many property holdings increased in step with the recovery in the commercial real estate market.

Other top real estate billionaires, according to Forbes, include Richard LeFrak (and family) at $5.6 billion and Stephen Ross at $4.8 billion. Ted Lerner, John Sobrato, and Sam Zell tied for fifth among real estate billionaires at $4 billion each (and 110th on the Forbes 400). Famed real estate mogul Donald Trump – easily the best known of the CRE bunch – is the nation’s eighth wealthiest real estate billionaire, with net assets of $3.5 billion.

Wall Street took a dive on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average down 185.46 points, or 1.19 percent. The S&P 500 was off 0.72 percent, and the Nasdaq lost 0.39 percent.