We already knew that the labor market didn't have a very good month in July: 131,000 jobs were lost. The news on a state-by-state basis wasn't any better. Last month, 45 states had fewer employed people, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This was largely a result of the labor market shrinking by more than half a million people. Consequently, the unemployment rate only increased in 14 states and declined in 18. Meanwhile, 25 states had more unemployed residents, while the other half had fewer. Overall, the data was mixed, but indicated little change compared to June.
Last month, there wasn't much movement in most states' unemployment rates. Louisiana was the only one that saw its rate increase by more than 0.1%. It went up by 0.2% to 7.2% -- still well below the national average of 9.5%. On the flip side, only one state's unemployment rate fell by more than 0.2%. Alabama's dropped 0.6% to 9.7%, slightly above the national average.
As far as the worst states go, Nevada's labor market continued to deteriorate further in July. Its unemployment rate rose 0.1% to hit 14.3%. It's slowly approaching Michigan's December high of 14.5%. Speaking of Michigan, the job market there continued to improve last month, with unemployment falling 0.1% to 13.1%. It's still the second worst, however. Rounding out the five-worst were the usual suspects: California, Rhode Island, and Florida, with unemployment rates of 12.3%, 11.9%, and 11.5%, respectively.
The states with the lowest unemployment rates also mostly remained the same. North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska were still the only states with unemployment below 5%, at 3.6%, 4.4%, and 4.7%, respectively.
Since unemployment rates moved so little this month, I thought it might be more interesting to see these extremes in a chart. Here are five worst and five best, which can also be described as the states with unemployment rates above 11% and those with unemployment rates less than or equal to 6%:
It's interesting to note that Rhode Island is only about 60 miles from New Hampshire, but their unemployment rates are 11.9% and 5.8%, respectively. Where's that labor mobility?
As always, BLS provides this nice map, to allow you to visually compare various ranges of unemployment around the U.S.: