Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in April. Twenty-one states recorded over-the-month unemployment rate decreases, 18 states and the District of Columbia registered rate increases, and 11 states had no rate change, the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor reported today.
MP: April’s report was the best state unemployment report in a year, measured by the number of states experiencing either a decrease in jobless rate (21 states in April including CA, FL, NY, TX, MN, WI, MO, etc.) or no rate change (11 in April) compared to the previous month. The last time that the jobless rate for 32 states either decreased or stayed the same compared to the previous month was last April 2008, when the BLS reported that 28 states and the District of Columbia recorded over-the-month unemployment rate decreases and 8 states had no change (total of 36 states).
For example, in December 2008 all 50 states and D.C. recorded over-the month unemployment rate increases, in January 2009 49 states and D.C. recorded over-the month increases, in February 2009 there were 49 states and D.C. with jobless rate increases, and in March 2009 there were 46 states with rates increases from the previous month and 3 with no change.
From the data in Table 3 of today’s report, it looks like some of the 18 states that recorded jobless rate increases in April had pretty large increases like Michigan (0.30% increase), Ohio (0.50% increase), Illinois (+0.40%), Connecticut (+0.40%), Rhode Island (+.50%), W. Va. (+0.7%), and those increases were much greater the monthly decreases of -.10% or -.20% in many of the 21 states that recorded decreases in their April unemployment rates. That would explain why the national jobless rate increased in April to 8.9%, even though 21 states had lower rates in April compared to March.
Bottom Line: The fact that 21 states recorded decreases in monthly unemployment rates for April, and 11 states recorded no change in rate for the first time in year, seems like a positive sign that job markets in most states around the country are stabilizing and recovering. The employment problems that persist are concentrated in certain Rust-belt states like MI, IL and OH, and high-tax states like CO and RI.