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More than a dozen US states boast best job markets in their history

Commuters, most wearing face masks, wait for an L train in the Loop on July 27, 2021, in Chicago. (Scott Olson/Getty Images/TNS)

For all the talk of a slowdown in the US economy, more than a dozen U.S. states have the best job markets in their history.

Unemployment rates were lower last month than a year earlier in 23 states, and stable in another seven, according to data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 15 states, unemployment was at the lowest level since the data series began in January 1976, and in 40 of them there was a statistically significant increase in the number of people working over the 12 months through April.

The strength of labor markets across various U.S. regions isn’t easy to square with an economy on the verge of an imminent downturn — and may bolster the a chorus of analysts who think that the U.S. can avoid a recession, even after the most aggressive Federal Reserve tightening in decades.

Still, there were some states where the job market has worsened and unemployment climbed over the past year — like Washington, which has a high proportion of workers in the information industry that’s seen several high-profile firms announce layoffs. In California, often seen a bellwether for the wider U.S. economy, the unemployment rate has climbed 0.4 percentage point over the past year.

South Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in April, at 1.9%. The next-lowest was in Nebraska at 2.0%, followed by New Hampshire and North Dakota at 2.1% each.

With the sole exception of Rhode Island, every state (plus the District of Columbia) reported more people in work last month than a year ago. On a percentage basis, employment increased by the most in Nevada — with a gain of 4.2% — followed by Texas and Florida at 4%, and 3.9% respectively.

The data comes from two monthly surveys conducted by the BLS. One measures unemployment, and is based on where people live, while the payroll figures are from an establishment survey defined by where employers are located.


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