WASHINGTON (April 20, 2012) — Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in March. Thirty states recorded unemployment rate decreases, 8 states posted rate increases, and 12 states and the District of Columbia had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Forty-nine states and the District of Columbia registered unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, while New York experienced an increase. The national jobless rate was little changed from February at 8.2 percent but was 0.7 percentage point lower than in March 2011.
In March 2012, non-farm payroll employment increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia, decreased in 20 states, and was unchanged in Alabama. The largest over-the-month increase in employment occurred in New York (+19,100), followed by California (+18,200) and Arizona (+13,500). The largest over-the-month decrease in employment occurred in Ohio (-9,500), followed by New Jersey (-8,600) and Wisconsin (-4,500). Arizona experienced the largest over-the-month percentage increase in employment (+0.6 percent), followed by the District of Columbia and Nebraska (+0.5 percent each). Maine experienced the largest over-the-month percentage decline in employment (-0.5 percent), followed by Wyoming (-0.3 percent). Over the year, non-farm employment increased in 45 states and the District of Columbia, decreased in 4 states, and was unchanged in Alabama. The largest over-the-year percentage increase occurred in North Dakota (+6.5 percent). The largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment occurred in Wisconsin (-0.9 percent).
Regional unemployment (seasonally adjusted)
The West continued to record the highest regional unemployment rate in March, 9.6 percent, while the Midwest again reported the lowest rate, 7.4 percent. Over the month, only the South experienced a statistically significant unemployment rate change (-0.2 percentage point). Over the year, the South registered the largest of three measurable rate changes (-1.1 percentage points), followed by the Midwest (-1.0 point) and West (-0.9 point).
Among the nine geographic divisions, the Pacific continued to report the highest jobless rate, 10.2 percent in March. The West North Central again registered the lowest rate, 5.9 percent. Two divisions experienced statistically significant unemployment rate changes over the month: the East North Central and South Atlantic (-0.2 percentage point each). Eight divisions had measurable unemployment rate changes from a year earlier, all of which were decreases. The largest of these occurred in the East South Central (-1.5 percentage points).
State unemployment (seasonally adjusted)
Nevada continued to record the highest unemployment rate among the states, 12.0 percent in March. Rhode Island and California posted the next highest rates, 11.1 and 11.0 percent, respectively. North Dakota again registered the lowest jobless rate, 3.0 percent, followed by Nebraska, 4.0 percent. In total, 23 states reported jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 8.2 percent, 7 states and the District of Columbia had measurably higher rates, and 20 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.
Mississippi and Oklahoma experienced the largest over-the-month unemployment rate declines in March (-0.6 percentage point each). Five other states also had statistically significant rate decreases: Florida and Massachusetts (-0.4 percentage point each), Nevada (-0.3 point), North Carolina (-0.2 point), and Vermont (-0.1 point). The remaining 43 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.
Alabama and Michigan registered the largest jobless rate decreases from March 2011 (-2.0 percentage points each). Sixteen additional states reported smaller but also statistically significant declines over the year. The remaining 32 states and the District of Columbia recorded unemployment rates that were not appreciably different from those of a year earlier.
Non-farm payroll employment (seasonally adjusted)
In March 2012, four states and the district recorded statistically significant over-the-month changes in employment, all of which were increases. The largest statistically significant job gains occurred in New York (+19,100), Arizona (+13,500), and Massachusetts (+8,700). (See tables C and 5.)
Over the year, 27 states and the district experienced statistically significant increases in employment. The largest increase occurred in Texas (+245,700), followed by California (+181,000) and New York (+155,300). Wisconsin was the only state to show a statistically significant decrease (-23,900).