Across the Board Decreases in State Unemployment Rates

by Adriana Kugler on July 31, 2012 · 3 comments

The release of last month’s state-level unemployment statistics reaffirmed what many economists, including me, have stated: the labor market recovery has been steady and widespread. These numbers aren’t just good news for our economy, they’re impacting the lives of everyday Americans.

We have experienced 28 consecutive months of job growth across all industry sectors, except state and local government.  This has led to 4.4 million new jobs in the private sector and a drop in the national unemployment rate by 1.6 percentage points. To put this in perspective, 48 states and the District of Columbia have seen their unemployment rates fall since the start of the recovery. This includes 21 states where the rate has fallen more than 2 percentage points.

Changes in Unemployment Rates by State, Seasonally Adjusted, February 2010 - June 2012. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Local Area Unemployment Statistics

So what has this meant for job development in the various sectors across the country? The U.S. auto industry is experiencing an amazing resurgence with workers in Michigan and Ohio going back to the factory floors and getting extra shifts.  Overall, manufacturing has added more than 500,000 new jobs since January 2010 – the greatest 29-month streak of job growth since 1995.      

In North Carolina and Pennsylvania, where high tech regional innovation centers are growing, developments of advanced manufacturing facilities have helped drive the unemployment rates down by 2.0 and 1.2 percentage points respectively.

In states like Florida, California, and Nevada, where the implosion of the housing bubble led to double digit unemployment rates, growth in the hospitality, education and healthcare industries are creating new opportunities for previously unemployed workers. In fact, Secretary Solis recently traveled to northern California to see firsthand how job training programs were preparing laid-off workers for new careers as medical assistants, electricians and culinary artists.   As a result of innovative programs such as this, these states have seen their respective unemployment rates drop 2.8, 1.9, and 1.7 percentage points through June.  

While we still have more work to do get everyone back to work, these numbers are encouraging and show that the economy is on a continuous recovery at both the national and state levels.

Adriana Kugler is Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Labor.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Otis G. Cox August 1, 2012 at 9:16 am

CNN and other media stations are not in agreement with you. How do we as citizens make sense of all of this?

2 Gregg S August 3, 2012 at 10:10 am

U6 AT 15% ADRIANA KUGLER NEED I SAY MORE?

3 Paul Hoffman August 3, 2012 at 10:54 am

1. DOL is not trying hard enough.
2. To be honest, the “unemployment” numbers greatly underestimate the numbers of former workers who are a) jobless; b) unable to find work; and c) under-employed. And 2+ million of our youth are, in every year, going to be looking for work.
3. So the country needs to find productive employment for an additional quarter million per month if this problem is to be solved.
WHAT ARE YOU NOT TRYING?
1. Try advertising broadly that you have RFP’s for any0ne who has a creative idea for creating, say, 1,000 jobs or more.
2. Turn the heat on Congress to fund repairs and maintenance. No one in their right mind expects their home appliances or their roof to continue to function without budgeting a cost for maintenance.
3. Budget for those emergencies that are just around the corner, and get Congress to pay for them. When your home is eaten away by termites or other causes of neglect, you suffer. When our country is eaten away because its dams, bridges, transportation systems, and energy systems are neglected or unable to meet the demands of a crisis, all of us suffer.
FINAL NOTE:
YOU are the Dept of Labor. We expect you to try harder to identify what is necessary, to realize what needs to be done to reverse the unemployment that results from automation, to demand that the media give more than lip service to these problems, and to present (in the strongest voice) exactly all the things that need to be done to get people back to work. If you don’t have a blueprint for this by now, you have, regrettably, dropped the ball, and caused millions to suffer the consequences.

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