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Regional and State Employment and Unemployment -- December 2012

(January 23, 2013) Regional and state unemployment rates were generally little changed in December. Twenty-two states recorded unemployment rate decreases, 16 states and the District of Columbia posted increases, and 12 states had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia registered unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, six states experienced increases, and two states had no change. The national jobless rate, 7.8 percent, was unchanged from November and was 0.7 percentage point lower than in December 2011.

In December 2012, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 27 states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 23 states. The largest over-the-month increase in employment occurred in New York (+35,100), followed by New Jersey (+30,200), Georgia (+14,400), and Missouri (+10,200). The largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in California (-17,500), followed by Florida (-15,300), Louisiana (-11,400), and Michigan (-10,600). New Jersey experienced the largest over-the-month percentage increase in employment (+0.8 percent), followed by Kansas (+0.6 percent) and Alaska, Georgia, Missouri, and New York (+0.4 percent each). Hawaii experienced the largest over-the-month percentage decline in employment (-0.7 percent), followed by Louisiana and Wyoming (-0.6 percent each). Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 44 states and decreased in 6 states and the District of Columbia. The largest over-the-year percentage increases occurred in North Dakota (+3.6 percent) and Utah (+3.0 percent). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in West Virginia (-1.8 percent).

Regional Unemployment (Seasonally Adjusted)

The West continued to record the highest regional unemployment rate in December, 8.6 percent, while the Midwest again reported the lowest rate, 7.1 percent. Over the month, no region experienced a statistically significant unemployment rate change. In contrast, significant over-the-year rate changes occurred in three regions: the South and West (-1.2 percentage points each) and the Midwest (-0.8 point). (See table 1.)

Among the nine geographic divisions, the Pacific continued to report the highest jobless rate, 9.2 percent in December. The West North Central again registered the lowest rate, 5.4 percent. No division recorded a statistically significant over-the-month unemployment rate change. Seven divisions had measurable rate changes from a year earlier, all of which were decreases. The largest of these declines occurred in the West South Central (-1.3 percentage points).

State Unemployment (Seasonally Adjusted)

Nevada and Rhode Island recorded the highest unemployment rates among the states in December, 10.2 percent each. North Dakota again registered the lowest jobless rate, 3.2 percent. In total, 25 states reported jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 7.8 percent, 8 states had measurably higher rates, and 17 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation. (See tables A and 3.)

Nevada reported the largest over-the-month unemployment rate decrease in December (-0.6 percentage point). Four other states also had statistically significant rate decreases: Alabama (-0.4 percentage point), Connecticut (-0.3 point), Idaho (-0.2 point), and Vermont (-0.1 point). The remaining 45 states and the District of Columbia recorded jobless rates that were not measurably different from those of a month earlier, though some had changes that were at least as large numerically as the significant changes.

Nineteen states and the District of Columbia reported statistically significant unemployment rate changes from December 2011, all of which were declines. The largest of these occurred in Nevada (-2.8 percentage points), followed by Florida (-1.9 points) and Mississippi (-1.8 points). (See table B.)

Nonfarm Payroll Employment (Seasonally Adjusted)

In December 2012, nine states recorded statistically significant over- the-month changes in employment, six of which were increases. The largest statistically significant job gains occurred in New York (+35,100), New Jersey (+30,200), Georgia (+14,400), and Missouri (+10,200). The largest statistically significant job decreases occurred in Louisiana (-11,400) and Michigan (-10,600). (See table C.)

Over the year, 30 states experienced statistically significant changes in employment; only West Virginia’s employment decreased (-13,900). The largest over-the-year jobs increase occurred in Texas (+260,800), followed by California (+225,900) and New York (+123,600). (See table D.)


The Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment news release for December 2012 is scheduled to be released on Wednesday, January 30, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. (EST). The Regional and State Unemployment 2012 Annual Averages news release is scheduled to be released on Friday, March 1, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. (EST). The Regional and State Employment and Unemployment news release for January 2013 is scheduled to be released on Monday, March 18, 2013, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).

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