The national unemployment rate fell by half a percentage point as of the latest release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This .5% reduction is approximately equal to the total unemployment rate reduction reported over the three prior months combined, which is certainly an encouraging trajectory.
In total, about one-third of states saw their unemployment rates reduced over the past month, while about two-thirds of states had unemployment rates that remained essentially stable.
In this blog post, we break down the BLS market employment summary for August 2021 by state and county level to show employment trends.
States With the Highest Unemployment Rates
Nevada emerged last month as the state with the highest unemployment rate at 7.7% despite being among the 17 states that did see a month-to-month unemployment rate decrease (-.1%).
It should be noted that Nevada has seen the greatest year-to-year reduction in unemployment rate at -8.9%, which speaks to the severity of the pandemic-related impacts experienced there as well as the significance of its continuing economic recovery.
California, New York and New Mexico were the states with the next highest unemployment rate at 7.6% each. Last month, New Mexico tied Connecticut as the state with the highest unemployment rate at 7.9%, representing an approximate .3% month-to-month reduction for New Mexico as of the latest release.
It’s also worth noting that despite being near the top of the list for states with the highest unemployment rate, California has seen both the largest number of jobs gains over the last month (114,400) as well as over the last year (864,400).
The states with the smallest year-to-year decrease in unemployment rate were Kentucky and Colorado with -1.2% and -1.3%, respectively.
Counties With the Highest Unemployment Rates
The top three counties with the highest unemployment rates are the same three counties that topped the same list the month before.
Kusilvak Census Area, Alaska, remained the county with the highest unemployment rate at 24%, with just over 1,700 workers currently employed in the area—up from 21.2% unemployment the previous month.
Jefferson, Mississippi, has a current unemployment rate of 21.9%, which is up from 18.1% the month prior. Finally Yuma, Arizona, currently has an unemployment rate of 20.4%.
Among counties with more than 100K employed residents, Bronx, New York, continues to have the highest unemployment rate.
States With the Lowest Unemployment Rates
The lowest unemployment rate among states was Nebraska at 2.3%, followed by Utah at 2.6%.
Connecticut (which tied New Mexico last month for the highest unemployment rate), Hawaii (which was the state with the highest unemployment rate through much of the pandemic) and Oregon experienced the largest month-to-month reduction in unemployment rate with a decrease of about .4% each.
After Nevada (-8.9%), the state with the largest decrease in unemployment rate over the past year was Rhode Island, which experienced an 8.2% unemployment rate reduction during that time.
Counties With the Lowest Unemployment Rates
The county with the lowest unemployment rate is Cimarron, Ohio, which has fewer than 20 currently unemployed residents and nearly 1,500 employed workers.
Among counties with at least 10K current workers, Texas County, Oklahoma, has the lowest unemployment rate at 1.5%.
Once again Shelby, Alabama, has the lowest unemployment rate for a county containing more than 50K-100K employees, though that figure has increased to 2.4% from 1.9% one month earlier.
States With New Job Gains
Following California (114K), the states with the most raw jobs gains last month were Texas and North Carolina, which added approximately 81K and 76K jobs, respectively.
North Carolina was also among the states with the largest percentage of jobs gained at a 1.7% increase (just behind Vermont and Hawaii at 2.3% and 1.8%, respectively).
Mployer Advisor’s Take:
Amid the economic recovery, not all of the job gains are, to data, distributed equally across the map. Concerns about slowed growth and even some backsliding in potentially vulnerable areas are also certainly justified. However, the overall recovery trend and trajectory look strong, and there is reason to be optimistic on the economic front as we head into the fall season.
Looking for more exclusive content? Check out last month's Market Employment Summary here.