The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its State Employment and Unemployment recap for July 2021. The data showed a very slight increase in the unemployment rate across the country from 5.8% to 5.9%. This may be an effect caused by an influx of unemployed people who had given up looking for work and are now searching for a job.
Even at 5.9%, the current national unemployment rate is half of what it was a year ago at 11.1%, which shows progress over the past year.
In this blog post, we break down the BLS market employment summary for July 2021 by state and county level to show employment trends.
States With the Highest Unemployment Rates
For the first time in many months, Hawaii is not the state with the highest unemployment rate. This is likely due to the rebound the travel and tourism industries are experiencing. In fact, Hawaii had the largest month-to-month decrease in unemployment with a .3% reduction to under 7.8%.
Connecticut and New Mexico had the highest unemployment rate last month at 7.9% each, followed by Nevada at 7.8%, though Connecticut only trails Hawaii in its month-to-month rate reduction at -.2%.
Kansas experienced the largest increase in unemployment last month at .2%.
Currently, there are 28 states with unemployment rates that are lower than the national average of 5.9%; there are 10 states that are about even with the national average; and there are 12 states (plus Washington, D.C.) with unemployment rates that are greater than the national average. This shows the pandemic recovery has distributed among different states.
Counties With the Highest Unemployment Rates
On a county level, populated areas tend to top the list for both the highest and lowest unemployment rate. In Yuma County, Arizona, there are 80,000 people without a job; this places Yuma county in the top three counties with the highest unemployment rate.
Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska, remains the county with the highest unemployment rate at 21.2%, followed by Jefferson, Mississippi, at 18.1%.
Among counties with more than 100,000 currently employed residents, the Bronx in New York City remains the county with the highest unemployment rate at 13%.
The Lowest Unemployment Rates by State and County
Nebraska claimed the lowest jobless rate last month at 2.5%, followed by Utah at 2.7%.
Beyond Hawaii and Connecticut, other states with notable reductions in their unemployment rates last month include North Carolina, Oregon, Oklahoma and West Virginia, which each dropped .2% from their unemployment rates.
Compared to this time last year, the state with the largest total reduction is Massachusetts, which is down almost 10% from where it was in June 2020. In total, 15 states reduced their unemployment rates by at least 5% over the past year.
Counties With The Lowest Unemployment Rates
Addison County, Vermont, with 20,000 currently employed residents boasts the lowest unemployment rate of the month at 1.2%, followed by a small county in Nebraska (Grant) with an employed population of less than 400 and an unemployment rate of 1.2%.
In total, nine out of 15 of the counties with the lowest unemployment rates last month were in Vermont or New Hampshire. Many of those counties contain sizable workforces with seven claiming labor pools of 20,000 plus. The largest of each is Rockingham, New Hampshire, with an unemployment rate of 1.3% and 180,000 currently employed residents. Chittenden, Vermont, had an unemployment rate of 1.2% and 90,000 currently employed residents.
States With New Job Gains
Half of the states saw job gains last month while the rest (and Washington, D.C.) remained unchanged for the most part. The only state to experience a net decrease in jobs was Alaska, which saw employment decrease by 3K jobs (or a .9% unemployment rate increase).
Population centers will dominate raw jobs gains, and that is true here both on a month-to-month level and when looking at the last year as a whole.
Last month, Florida, California, and Texas saw the largest job gains with 81K, 74K, and 56K new jobs. Over the last year, the states with the largest number of new jobs added were California, New York, and Texas with 805K, 672K, 654K each respectively.
On a percentage basis, the state with the largest job gains last month was Arizona at 1.3%, followed by Nevada at 1.2% and Florida and North Carolina at .9% each.
Mployer Advisor's Take
Jobs reports and economic recovery continue to look strong despite growing viral variant infection waves and the uncertainty that accompanies vaccine hesitancy among vulnerable populations. Our trajectory remains positive, but there may well be obstacles ahead.
Looking for more exclusive content? Check out last month's Market Employment Summary here.