Where are the Jobs? State Unemployment Performance in 2015
by Jeffrey L Garceau
The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released their 2015 survey report of state employment figures. This survey serves to report unemployment figures for each state plus the District of Columbia, as well as employment-population ratios. MuniNet took a look at the numbers, looking at best and worst unemployment performers, as well as regional trends.
It should be noted that the BLS only reports figures for those states whose survey results are found to be statistically significant. BLS runs statistical tests of the data they receive from the states, to ensure the results are not simply due to chance. Twelve states provided data the Bureau determined to not be statistically significant; Alaska, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
At the end of 2014, the state with the highest unemployment rate was Nevada, with a rate of 7.9%, and Vermont had the lowest, with a rate of 4%. The District of Columbia has the highest rate in 2015, of 6.9%, and Nevada had the highest of any state, 6.7%, and New Hampshire, with an unemployment rate of 3.4%.
Not a single state reported an increased unemployment rate for the year of 2015. Michigan reduced its unemployment rate by 1.9%, from 7.3% to 5.9%. Rhode Island and California saw the second and third highest reductions in unemployment, of 1.7% and 1.3%, respectively. Five states reduced their unemployment rate by 1.2%. Vermont only reduced unemployment by 0.3%, down to 3.7%. It is clear that the top performers were also some of the states that had the furthest to go; all three states with the highest reduction in unemployment were among the five states with the highest unemployment rate, omitting D.C.
Regionally, the Midwest led in reducing unemployment, with three states being in the top ten performers. Of the ten states with the lowest unemployment rates in the country, the New England region led all regions with three states; New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine were ranked first, fifth, and ninth in this metric. The New York-New Jersey region and the Southeast region were the only regions that had no states in the top ten, although to be fair, New York-New Jersey is a region of only two states. The Southeast region has four of the ten states with the highest unemployment rate in this survey for 2015; Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi.