By most accounts, the U.S. economy got off to a slow start this year as overseas markets struggled and a harsh winter held back some employers from hiring. 

At the state level, updated job estimates published by the Labor Department Wednesday depict sizable variation in how economies have fared so far this year. A few states out West enjoyed particularly strong growth, even though the economy sputtered earlier, while others have changed little in recent months.

Average monthly job totals for January through April, when compared with the last four months of 2014, rose in all but three states. In seven states, the increase was greater than 1 percent. (See totals below)

Idaho recorded the largest percentage increase over the four-month period (+2.2 percent), followed by Utah (+1.8 percent). Washington state also enjoyed steady job gains, with average monthly employment up by about 40,000 positions (+1.3 percent).

A handful of other states experienced very meager growth to start the year. In West Virginia, Louisiana and Maine, average monthly employment declined slightly. April unemployment rates were highest in Nevada (7.1 percent) and West Virginia (7.0 percent).

Much of how state economies are performing is due to the individual sectors making up their employment base, as several industries experienced weak growth to start the year. Nationally, construction and manufacturing employment expanded little over the first four months. The same is true of government employment (local, state and federal), which similarly remained essentially unchanged since January. Meanwhile, employment estimates for professional and business services, along with education and health services, are both up about 150,000 since January.

The national recovery slowed in March with exceptionally weak job gains. Revised estimates indicate an addition of just 85,000 jobs, the lowest monthly tally in nearly three years. Some economists attributed the slowdown to harsh winter weather that may have hit construction and other sectors particularly hard. The latest figures, though, suggest the economy added 223,000 in April, indicating the weak showing for March have only been a temporary blip.

State Jobs Data

The following table shows how states' average monthly nonfarm employment for 2015 compares to the last four months of 2014:

State % Change 9/2014-12/2014 Average Employment 1/2015-4/2015 Average Employment
West Virginia -0.43 762,875 759,625
Louisiana -0.33 1,992,575 1,985,900
Maine -0.03 605,300 605,100
New Hampshire 0.10 651,525 652,200
Virginia 0.13 3,787,425 3,792,375
Oklahoma 0.19 1,663,625 1,666,800
District of Columbia 0.21 759,525 761,100
Mississippi 0.21 1,122,450 1,124,850
Kansas 0.24 1,398,975 1,402,375
Pennsylvania 0.25 5,813,375 5,828,125
Tennessee 0.31 2,840,100 2,848,850
Alabama 0.31 1,937,100 1,943,075
North Dakota 0.34 468,300 469,900
Illinois 0.37 5,891,875 5,913,475
Maryland 0.38 2,634,000 2,643,900
Rhode Island 0.38 478,750 480,575
Minnesota 0.44 2,827,700 2,840,025
New York 0.44 9,139,475 9,179,550
Delaware 0.48 441,025 443,125
New Jersey 0.48 3,977,100 3,996,375
New Mexico 0.51 825,625 829,825
Ohio 0.53 5,359,775 5,388,125
Kentucky 0.54 1,873,700 1,883,800
Alaska 0.57 338,050 339,975
Montana 0.57 453,875 456,475
Massachusetts 0.63 3,434,100 3,455,625
Iowa 0.64 1,555,200 1,565,150
Missouri 0.64 2,741,275 2,758,825
Texas 0.66 11,684,625 11,762,300
Georgia 0.72 4,208,400 4,238,525
Wyoming 0.74 293,650 295,825
Indiana 0.75 3,000,025 3,022,550
Arkansas 0.75 1,197,800 1,206,800
Nebraska 0.76 995,850 1,003,400
Hawaii 0.76 625,850 630,625
Colorado 0.80 2,485,100 2,505,100
Connecticut 0.81 1,671,875 1,685,375
South Dakota 0.82 424,475 427,950
Wisconsin 0.84 2,861,475 2,885,575
Vermont 0.86 311,300 313,975
Arizona 0.93 2,592,725 2,616,850
California 0.97 15,811,600 15,964,225
North Carolina 0.97 4,179,350 4,219,700
Nevada 0.99 1,227,575 1,239,725
Florida 1.04 7,924,850 8,007,325
South Carolina 1.08 1,966,650 1,987,850
Michigan 1.11 4,202,400 4,248,875
Oregon 1.26 1,740,900 1,762,800
Washington 1.28 3,109,350 3,149,200
Utah 1.79 1,343,625 1,367,700
Idaho 2.17 658,075 672,325

SOURCE: Governing calculations of BLS seasonally-adjusted nonfarm employment data