The biggest one-year drops were reported in South Carolina, where the jobless rate fell to 5.3 percent from 7.9 percent, and North Carolina, where it dropped to 6.2 percent from 8.4 percent, according to the Labor Department. See the enclosed chart for the states that had the biggest declines in their jobless rates during the one-year period.
You’ll hear about some of these numbers on the campaign trail. Thirty-six states are holding elections for governor this November, and look for state chief executives seeking new terms to brandish the declining unemployment rates as testimony their policies are working.
“Republican governors are getting the job done and these most recent unemployment figures are proof positive that the pro-jobs, pro-growth, low-tax policies they are championing and implementing in the states are working,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s leading the Republican Party’s political efforts in the governors’ elections, said in a statement May 16.
Democrats probably would counter that state economies have improved under the stewardship of President Barack Obama’s administration, which has noted the private sector has added jobs in 49 consecutive months.
Alabama’s unemployment rate rose to 6.9 percent from 6.5 percent, making it the only state to see its jobless rate rise during the one-year period. The unemployment rates remained the same in Alaska at 6.4 percent and in Missouri at 6.6 percent.
State unemployment rates last month ranged from 2.6 percent in North Dakota to 8.3 percent in Rhode Island.
The jobless rate was “below 8.5 percent in every state for the first time during the current economic recovery,” Bloomberg BNA’s Larry Swisher reported.
The national jobless rate was 6.3 percent, down 1.2 points from a year earlier. While the unemployment rate is the lowest since September 2008, that’s in part because a lot of people haven’t entered the work force. The labor-force participation rate — the share of the working-age population either employed or looking for a job — fell to 62.8 percent last month, matching a 36-year-low, Bloomberg’s Victoria Stilwell reported earlier this month.
“A shrinking workforce saps the U.S. of the manpower needed to boost the expansion to a higher level, keeping the world’s largest economy merely plodding along,” she wrote.
“As the economy recovers, we might see labor-force participation strengthen, rather than continue to decline,” Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said May 7.