Unemployment rate rises in seven states

Unemployment rate rises in seven states
© Getty Images

Unemployment rates are rising in energy-producing states amid a global price slide in commodities, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday.

Seven states saw their unemployment rates rise significantly over the last month: Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Missouri, New Mexico, Oregon and South Dakota.


Three states — Alabama, Illinois and North Carolina — saw their unemployment rates fall. Twenty states have unemployment rates significantly below the 4.9 percent national average, while 14 states and the District of Columbia have rates higher than the national rate.

South Dakota and New Hampshire have the lowest unemployment rates in the country, at 2.8 percent and 2.9 percent, the BLS reported.

Alaska, at 6.7 percent, has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and New Mexico all have unemployment rates of 6 percent or higher.

Alaska is one of the states that has seen a steady stream of job losses as global energy prices have fallen. Wyoming, New Mexico and West Virginia also have jobless rates higher than the national average.

After several major coal-producing companies announced shutdowns and layoffs in recent months, Wyoming’s unemployment rate, at 5.7 percent, jumped 1.4 percentage points over the last year, a larger increase than any other state.

Even North Dakota, which survived the great recession relatively unscathed as high oil prices drove a boom in hydraulic fracturing, has seen job losses. Its unemployment rate remains at just 3.1 percent, far below the national average, but North Dakota is one of just two states — along with Wyoming — to have lost jobs over the last year. Both states bled about 10,000 jobs since July 2015.

Four states — Arkansas, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia — have seen their unemployment rates drop by more than 1 percentage point over the last year. The District’s unemployment rate dropped nearly a full percentage point, from 6.8 percent to 5.9 percent, over the same time.

California added 374,000 jobs over the last year, the Bureau reported, though its 5.5 percent unemployment rate remains higher than the national rate. Florida added a quarter million jobs in the last 12 months, while Texas tacked on another 173,000 jobs.

Since October 2009, when the U.S. unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent, California has added more than 800,000 jobs. Texas has picked up 1.2 million jobs, more than any other state in the nation, while Florida has added about 625,000 jobs.