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Unemployment down in 45 states in January

Regional and state unemployment rates were generally lower in January. Forty-five states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rate decreases, New York posted a rate increase, and four states had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Forty-eight states and the District of Columbia registered unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, while New York experienced an increase and Illinois had no change. The national jobless rate decreased to 8.3 percent from December and was 0.8 percentage point lower than in January 2011.

Kentucky’s unemployment rate in the latest U.S. Department of Labor assessment for the month of January was 8.8 percent.

In January, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 37 states and decreased in 13 states and the District of Columbia. The largest over-the-month increase in employment occurred in Texas (+67,200), followed by New York (+44,600) and Ohio (+32,800). The largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in Florida (-38,600), followed by Pennsylvania (-9,000) and the District of  Columbia (-6,100). New Hampshire experienced the largest over-the-month percentage increase in employment (+1.0 percent), followed by Colorado, Kansas, and Maine (+0.9 percent each). The District of Columbia experienced the largest over-the-month percentage decline in employment (-0.8 percent), followed by Florida (-0.5 percent) and Alabama, Hawaii, Nebraska, and South Dakota (-0.3 percent each).

Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 44 states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 6 states. The largest over-the-year percentage increaseoccurred in North Dakota (+5.7 percent), followed by Texas and Utah (+2.5 percent each). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Wisconsin (-0.5 percent), followed by Alaska, Mississippi, and Rhode Island (-0.3 percent each).

Regional Unemployment

The West continued to record the highest regional unemployment rate in January, 9.6 percent, while the Midwest again reported the lowest rate, 7.7 percent. The Midwest, South, and West experienced statistically
significant over-the-month unemployment rate changes (-0.2 percentage point each). The same three regions also registered measurable over-the-year rate decreases — the West (-1.1 percentage points),
Midwest (-0.9 point), and South (-0.8 point).

Among the nine geographic divisions, the Pacific continued to report the highest jobless rate, 10.2 percent in January. The West North Central again registered the lowest rate, 5.9 percent. Six divisions experienced statistically significant unemployment rate declines over the month. The largest of these occurred in the East South Central and South Atlantic (-0.3 percentage point each). All of the divisions experienced unemployment rate declines from a year earlier, eight of which were statistically significant. The largest declines were recorded in the East South Central and Pacific (-1.2 percentage points each).

State Unemployment

Nevada continued to record the highest unemployment rate among the states, 12.7 percent in January. California and Rhode Island posted the next highest rates, 10.9 percent each. North Dakota again registered the lowest jobless rate, 3.2 percent, followed by Nebraska, 4.0 percent. In total, 24 states reported jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 8.3 percent, 8 states and the District of Columbia had measurably higher rates, and 18 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Fourteen states experienced statistically significant over-the-month unemployment rate declines in January. The largest of these were in Mississippi and Missouri (-0.5 percentage point each). The remaining 36 states and the District of Columbia recorded jobless rates that were not measurably different from those of a month earlier, though some had changes that were at least as large numerically as the significant changes.

Michigan registered the largest jobless rate decrease from January 2011 (-1.9 percentage points), followed by Utah (-1.8 points). Twenty additional states reported smaller but also statistically significant decreases over the year. The remaining 28 states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rates in January 2012 that were not appreciably different from those of a year earlier.

Nonfarm Payroll Employment

In January, 24 states and the District of Columbia recorded statistically significant over-the-month changes in employment, 23 of which were increases. The largest statistically significant job gains occurred in Texas (+67,200), New York (+44,600), Ohio (+32,800), and Georgia (+22,000). The statistically significant declines in employment occurred in Florida (-38,600) and the District of Columbia (-6,100).

Over the year, 26 states experienced statistically significant changes in employment, all of which were increases. The largest increase occurred in Texas (+258,200), followed by New York (+139,300) and California (+126,100).