Unemployment Declines in 44 States, but Rises in Nevada

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The number of unemployed Americans declined in 44 states in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of the declines were significant, particularly for some of the states with the hardest-hit economies. But Nevada, which dethroned Michigan in May for the worst labor market, was one of the few that saw its unemployment rate rise, to a terrible 14.2%. Here's a quick breakdown of the data.

Let's get the bad news out of the way. The six states that had more jobless were Louisiana, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Montana, and Colorado. But even among that list, only the first three had more than 1,000 jobs lost. In terms of unemployment rates, the most deterioration took place in Nevada and Louisiana, which each saw their rates increase by 0.2%, to 14.2% and 7.0%, respectively.

The rest of the news is good. Seven states enjoyed more than 10,000 net new jobs. Nine saw their unemployment rates fall by at least 0.4%. New Hampshire's rate fell by the most, 0.5% to 5.9%.

Of the ten worst state labor markets, only Nevada's unemployment rate rose. In Michigan, the rate declined by 0.4% to 13.2%. In California, the rate fell slightly by 0.1% to 12.3%. Florida and Rhode Island saw their unemployment rate decrease by 0.3%, to 11.4% and 12.0%, respectively. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska continued to have the lowest unemployment rates, at 3.6%, 4.5%, and 4.8%, respectively. Maybe a good stimulus project would be a free one-way bus ride for unemployed Nevadans to move to one of those three states.

In fact, what is up with Nevada? The vast majority of states, including most of the worst ones, showed decent improvement in June -- but not Nevada. Its labor market deteriorated further. Nevada's unemployment rate is now approaching the highest state rate of 14.5% hit during the recession, by Michigan in December. The awful housing market in Nevada must still be weighing on jobs.

Here's a scorecard of the biggest winners and losers in June:

state unemp 2010-06 revised v2.png

As you can see, it was such a good month that not even all six of the worsening states saw their rates decline. Here's the full map, provided by the BLS:

unemployment state map 2010-06.PNG

Note: As a few commenters have pointed out, the fewer Americans in the workforce in each state may be skewing the unemployment rates. According to my calculations, only 13 states actually had more employed people in June than in May, while the other 37 had fewer people employed in their labor force. Unfortunately, the state-level report does not explain reasons for leaving the labor force like discouragement. So it's hard to conclude precisely why the labor force was shrinking in any given state.

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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
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