Mike Maciag is Data Editor for GOVERNING.E-mail: email@example.com
Average unemployment rates fell in nearly all states in 2011, with the Midwest leading the way.
The Labor Department released totals Wednesday showing the average annual seasonally-adjusted rate dropped in 48 states, mirroring a 0.7 percent drop in the national rate. Only Arkansas and Mississippi recorded statistically-insignificant increases.
The average rate plummeted the furthest in Michigan, decreasing from 12.7 to 10.3 percent in 2011. The state had the nation's highest jobless rate for much the recession, peaking at 14.2 percent in August 2009. That title is now held by Nevada and it's rate of 12.6 percent.
Michigan managed to add jobs last year, fueled in part by automobile manufacturers all earning profits.
But workers dropping out of the workforce likely accounted for part of the sizable drop in unemployment. The state's labor force has lost about 160,000 workers over the past two years, according to Labor Department data.
Other states reporting large average jobless rate declines were Ohio (-1.4 percent), Utah (-1.3 percent) and Oregon (-1.2 percent).
A total of 30 states recorded statistically significant average annual unemployment rate decreases in 2011, the Labor Department reported. Here's the complete list:
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