Unemployment Rates Fall in 29 States

Unemployment rates declines in 29 states, with workers exiting the labor force driving much of the largest declines.
by | March 30, 2012

Twenty-nine states posted monthly unemployment rate declines in February, the Labor Department reported today.

Seasonally-adjusted rate decreases were 0.2 percent or more in seven states. New York reported the only statistically significant increase, up 0.2 percent from January.

Workers leaving the labor force accounted for some of the largest monthly declines in states.

About 1,000 additional Mississippi workers found employment in February, but an estimated 5,000 stopped looking for work, the state Department of Employment Security said.

Accordingly, the state’s unemployment rate fell sharply to 9.5 percent, the first time it has dropped below 10 percent since September 2009. The half percent decrease from January was the largest decline of any state.

Similarly, Nevada’s unemployment rate fell from 12.7 in January to 12.3 in February, also mostly driven by workers giving up looking for work. The state estimates about 6,500 unemployed workers exited the labor force.

The Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation reports unemployment claims dropped about 6 percent in January, the largest decline in 27 months.

Bill Anderson, the department’s chief economist, said in a news release that the numbers point to a stabilization in the Nevada’s labor market. Still, 17,336 new claims were filed last month and the state's unemployment rate remains the nation's highest.

The U.S. unemployment rate was unchanged last month at 8.3 percent. The Labor Department will release updated national unemployment figures April 6.

States with large year-over-year seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate changes, according to the Labor Department:

State February 2011 February 2012 % Change
Alabama 9.3 7.6 -1.7
California 12 10.9 -1.1
Connecticut 9.2 7.8 -1.4
Florida 10.8 9.4 -1.4
Georgia 9.9 9.1 -0.8
Kansas 6.9 6.1 -0.8
Kentucky 9.8 8.7 -1.1
Maine 7.9 7.1 -0.8
Michigan 10.7 8.8 -1.9
Minnesota 6.7 5.7 -1
Missouri 8.9 7.4 -1.5
Nevada 13.6 12.3 -1.3
Ohio 8.9 7.6 -1.3
South Carolina 10.5 9.1 -1.4
South Dakota 5 4.3 -0.7
Tennessee 9.5 8 -1.5
Texas 8 7.1 -0.9
Utah 7.3 5.7 -1.6
Vermont 5.9 4.9 -1
Washington 9.5 8.2 -1.3
Wisconsin 7.6 6.9 -0.7

NOTE: February 2012 figures are preliminary

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