Economy Watch: Unemployment Stable in Most States

All states have recovered from the worst of the Great Recession, with some seeing spectacular turnarounds, according to recent U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Employment and Unemployment, December 2017
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, State Employment and Unemployment, December 2017

On a state-by-state basis, unemployment seems to have stabilized, which is one factor driving demand for real estate, especially residential and office. Unemployment rates were lower in December in six states and the District of Columbia compared with the month before, higher in only one state, and stable in 43 states, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday.

Moreover, 25 states enjoyed jobless rate decreases from a year earlier, only two states suffered increases, and 23 states and D.C. experienced little or no change. The national unemployment rate was unchanged from November at 4.1 percent, but was 0.6 percentage points lower than in December 2016.

Hawaii had the lowest state unemployment rate in December, coming in at only 2 percent. The rates in Hawaii, California (4.3 percent), and Mississippi (4.6 percent) are as low as they have been since the BLS started calculating rates the way it does now, in 1976. Alaska had the highest jobless rate in December, at 7.3 percent.

In terms of unemployment, all states have recovered from the worst of the recession, while some have seen spectacular turnarounds. Michigan, for instance, saw its unemployment rate peak in June 2009 at a whopping 14.9 percent. The rate is now 10.3 percentage points lower, though in fact the December 2017 Michigan unemployment rate of 4.6 percent is higher than in July 2017, the most recent peak, when it was 3.7 percent.