Jobless Rates Up in Every State


While some states fared better than others, December was a cruel month for many workers nationwide, and economists predict job losses will continue for the rest of this year.

All 50 states recorded an increase in the jobless rate in December and an overall spike since last year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said Tuesday (Jan. 27). The national unemployment rate rose from 6.8 percent to 7.2 percent -  compared with 4.9 percent a year ago.

The numbers of people losing jobs last month varied widely from state to state.

Michigan (10.6 percent) and Rhode Island (10 percent) posted the highest rates of unemployment, while Wyoming (3.4 percent) and North Dakota (3.5 percent) had the lowest. Ten states had jobless rates significantly higher than the national average and 22 states reported much lower rates.

In employment growth - an indicator of which states are likely to restore jobs most quickly -Wyoming also showed the healthiest signs, with a 2.2 percent increase in employment since last year. Four other states - Texas (1.5 percent), Oklahoma (1 percent), Alaska (.9 percent) and South Dakota (.8 percent) - recorded an increase in the number of people employed.

But in most states, the job market is shrinking. Since December 2007, 29 states reported a significant decline in the number of people employed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Topping the list is California with 257,400 fewer people employed since last year. Florida is next with 255,200 fewer jobs, followed by Michigan with 173,000 jobs lost and North Carolina with 120,200.

Nationwide, employers have shed 2.6 million jobs since December 2007 and the number is not expected to peak until sometime next year.

Without government intervention, the national unemployment rate is likely to exceed 10 percent by mid-2010 and could remain as high as 7.6 percent through 2012, according to a Jan. 13 report by the Economic Policy Institute, a non-profit research group.

"This is going to take a long time to turn around. But the magnitude of the employment drop will depend on what comes out of Congress on the economic stimulus bill," said Heidi Shierholz, co-author of the report.

See Related Stories:

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States swamped by spike in jobless rates (1/9/2009)

Policy challenge - How to expand safety net (1/5/2009)

State jobless funds are running dry (10/7/2008)

States adopt bold anti-poverty measures (8/7/2008)

State jobless benefits reserves low (6/2/2008)


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