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Unemployment Continues to Climb in Most States, Western Region Hit Hardest

The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates unemployment increased in 30 states and the District of Columbia, with nine states recording a decrease and 11 states reporting no change this past January.

In regard to nonfarm payroll, employment increased in 31 states and the District of Columbia, decreased in 18 states, and remained unchanged in one state.

Over the year, jobless rates increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The national unemployment rate fell from 10.0 percent in December to 9.7 percent in January, but was up from 7.7 percent a year earlier.

The largest over-the-month increase in employment occurred in California (+32,500), followed by Illinois (+26,000), New York (+25,500), Washington (+18,900), and Minnesota (+15,600). The District of Columbia experienced the largest over-the-month percentage increase in employment (+1.0 percent), followed by Alaska (+0.9 percent), Washington (+0.7 percent), Minnesota and Utah (+0.6 percent each), and Illinois (+0.5 percent).

The largest over- the-month decreases in employment occurred in Missouri and Ohio (-12,800 each), followed by Kentucky (-11,800), New Jersey (-9,100), Florida (-6,100), and Nevada (-5,700). Kentucky (-0.7 percent) experienced the largest over-the-month percentage decrease in employment, followed by Missouri and Nevada (-0.5 percent each), and Alabama, Kansas, Mississippi, and Ohio (-0.3 percent each). Over the year, nonfarm employment decreased in 48 states and increased in 2 states and the District of Columbia.

The largest over-the-year percentage decreases occurred in Nevada (-6.9 percent), Arizona (-5.4 percent), Wyoming (-5.0 percent), and California (-4.8 percent). In January, the West reported the highest regional jobless rate, 10.8 percent, while the Northeast recorded the lowest rate, 9.1 percent.

The South and West experienced statistically significant over-the- month rate changes (+0.2 percentage point each). Over the year, all four regions registered significant rate increases, the largest of which were in the South and West (+2.2 percentage points each).

Among the nine geographic divisions, the Pacific continued to report the highest jobless rate, 11.7 percent in January. The East North Central recorded the next highest rate, 11.3 percent. The West North Central registered the lowest January jobless rate, 7.2 percent, followed by the West South Central, 8.0 percent.

The Pacific rate, as well as the South Atlantic rate (10.3 percent), set new series highs. Four divisions experienced statistically significant unemployment rate increases from a month earlier, the largest of which were in New England and the South Atlantic (+0.2 percentage point each).

All nine divisions reported significant over-the-year rate increases of at least 0.8 percentage point. The largest of these occurred in the East North Central and Pacific (+2.4 percentage points each). Michigan again recorded the highest unemployment rate among the states, 14.3 percent in January.

The states with the next highest rates were Nevada, 13.0 percent; Rhode Island, 12.7 percent; South Carolina, 12.6 percent; and California, 12.5 percent. North Dakota continued to register the lowest jobless rate, 4.2 percent in January, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota, 4.6 and 4.8 percent, respectively.

The rates in California and South Carolina set new series highs, as did the rates in three other states: Florida (11.9 percent), Georgia (10.4 percent), and North Carolina (11.1 percent). The rate in the District of Columbia (12.0 percent) also set a new series high.

In total, 25 states posted jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 9.7 percent, 11 states and the District of Columbia had measurably higher rates, and 14 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Six states reported statistically significant over-the-month unemployment rate increases in January. New Mexico experienced the largest of these (+0.3 percentage point), followed by California, Florida, Idaho, and Utah (+0.2 point each) and Maryland (+0.1 point).

The remaining 44 states and the District of Columbia registered jobless rates that were not appreciably different from those of a month earlier, though some had changes that were at least as large numerically as the significant changes. West Virginia and Nevada recorded the largest jobless rate increases from January 2009 (+3.5 and +3.4 percentage points, respectively).

Six other states reported rate increases of 3.0 percentage points or more: Florida, Illinois, and Wyoming (+3.2 points each), Rhode Island (+3.1 points), and Alabama and Michigan (+3.0 points each).

The District of Columbia also registered a large over-the-year unemployment rate increase (+3.6 percentage points). Thirty-five additional states had smaller, but also statistically significant, rate increases. The remaining seven states reported jobless rates that were not appreciably different from those of a year earlier.

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