The national unemployment rate dropped by 0.2% last month–down from 4.8% to 4.6%–with nearly 60% of states seeing significant jobs gains while the rest remained largely stable.
The arguably bigger headline, however, was the news that the past four months of economic reports failed to include hundreds of thousands of uncounted new jobs.
Perhaps in part because of these previous underestimates in late summer and fall, consumer confidence and economic outlook have been trending down, while consumer behavior climbed. As a result, and according to recent polls, what consumers are actually doing is more closely aligned with an optimistic view of the state of the economy than what consumers may be expressing publicly.
Below is the breakdown of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) market employment summary for November 2021.
States With the Highest Unemployment Rates
Nevada remained the state with the highest unemployment rate, though this month it was joined by California with both states at 7.3% unemployment.
Both Nevada and California reduced their unemployment rates by a significantly greater margin than the national reduction over the same time frame (0.4% and 0.3% reductions, respectively)–a clear marker of movement in the right direction.
When discussing the unemployment rate reduction on a national scale, it’s important to acknowledge that fewer than 40% of states were able to meet or exceed last month’s national unemployment rate reduction. This relative geographic imbalance in the distribution of unemployment results from the 10% of states that are currently experiencing all-time record lows in unemployment, thus bringing down the national average.
Counties With the Highest Unemployment Rates
The county with the highest unemployment rate last month is Imperial, California, with nearly 20% unemployment and more than 13,000 unemployed workers.
Including Imperial, half of the top six counties with the highest rates have labor pools larger than 20,000 and are above 15% unemployment currently (Yuma, Arizona and Starr, TX).
Among counties with more than 100,000 employed residents, Bronx, New York, continues to top the list and is 13th on the list of counties with the highest unemployment rates overall.
States With the Lowest Unemployment Rates
For the second straight month, Nebraska and Utah top the list for states with the lowest unemployment rates. Nebraska, down from 2.3% to 1.9%, and Utah, down from 2.6% to 2.1%, both saw their month-to-month unemployment rates fall by at least twice the rate of the national average over the same period.
Arizona had the largest overall unemployment rate reduction last month with a 0.5% drop, followed by Connecticut, Louisiana, New Mexico and Wyoming at 0.4% each.
Another interesting detail: Georgia, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah, and West Virginia all reported their lowest unemployment rates since this data began being collected in 1976.
Counties With the Lowest Unemployment Rates
King, Texas, recorded the lowest unemployment rate among all U.S. counties last month, but Nebraska continues to dominate due it’s record low unemployment rate.
In fact, Nebraska boasts 82 of the top 100 counties with the lowest unemployment rates in the country, which is especially impressive considering that Nebraska only has 96 counties.
Among counties with a labor pool of at least 10k, Texas County, Oklahoma once again had the lowest unemployment rate–down 0.1% to 1.4% last month. Lancaster County, Nebraska, with an unemployment rate of 1.7%, had the lowest rate among counties with at least 100k in the labor pool.
States With New Job Gains
As is often the case, California (97k), Texas (57k), and New York (44k) are the three states with the most job gains last month–unsurprising news given each state’s disproportionately large population.
Regarding job gains by percentage, Louisiana, Alaska, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. topped the list with 1.9%, 1.4%, .9%, and .9%, respectively.
Mployer Advisor's Take:
The overall economic trends and trajectory look strong, but looming concerns about supply chain issues and labor shortages appear to be affecting consumer confidence more than consumer behavior. While the economy continues humming along despite this perception gap, the larger concern on the horizon is the threat of another surge in COVID-19 cases like the wave currently hitting Europe.