North Dakota Unemployment Rate Drops to 2.6%

Douglas A. McIntyre

The unemployment rate in North Dakota dropped to 2.6% last month, an improbable figure given that the rate in the United States is nearly three times that. Fracking may have its disadvantages environmentally, but its jobs benefits are clear, as the unemployment rate in the northern Plains state continues to drop. In November 2012, it was 3.6%.

States with very small populations continue to have an unemployment edge over more populous states, according to new Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on November unemployment. The jobless rates in Utah, Vermont, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa and Hawaii were all under 5%.

The unemployment situation by state improved measurably in most states in November. As a matter of fact, the jobless rate did not rise in a single state, based on measurements against October numbers. The BLS release on the data said:

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Regional and state unemployment rates were generally lower in November. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate decreases from October and five states had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Forty-two states had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, seven states and the District of Columbia had increases, and one state had no change. The national jobless rate declined to 7.0 percent from October and was 0.8 percentage point lower than in November 2012.

The states that took the brunt of the rise in unemployment during the recession continue to be in the worst shape:

Nevada and Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rates among the states in November, 9.0 percent each. The next highest rates were in Michigan, 8.8 percent, and Illinois, 8.7 percent.

At their current rate of improvement, the four states may not have unemployment rates below 7% before the end of 2014.

Across the country, the jobs recovery remains extremely uneven, according to the BLS. In November:

The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in California (+44,300), Texas (+28,700), and Indiana (+25,200). The largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in Ohio (-12,000), followed by North Carolina (-6,500) and Washington (-6,000)

The rising tide of the economy has not lifted all boats -- at least in the case of rapid job creation.

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