Regional and State Unemployment, 2015 Annual Average Summary

For release 10:00 a.m. (EST) Friday, February 26, 2016                  USDL-16-0364

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             REGIONAL AND STATE UNEMPLOYMENT -- 2015 ANNUAL AVERAGES


In 2015, annual average unemployment rates decreased in 47 states and the District 
of Columbia, increased in 2 states, and were unchanged in 1 state, the U.S. Bureau 
of Labor Statistics reported today. Employment-population ratios increased in 35 
states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 15 states. The U.S. jobless 
rate declined by 0.9 percentage point from the prior year to 5.3 percent, and the 
national employment-population ratio rose by 0.3 point to 59.3 percent.

Regional Unemployment

All four regions had statistically significant unemployment rate decreases from 
2014: the Midwest, Northeast, and West (-1.0 percentage point each) and the South 
(-0.7 point). The Midwest, at 4.8 percent, had the only jobless rate significantly 
lower than that of the U.S. in 2015, while the West, at 5.7 percent, had the only 
rate significantly above the national figure. (See table 1.)

All nine geographic divisions had statistically significant over-the-year 
unemployment rate declines in 2015, the largest of which occurred in the East 
North Central and Pacific (-1.2 percentage points each). The West North Central 
had the lowest jobless rate among divisions, 4.0 percent. The West South Central, 
at 4.7 percent, and New England, at 5.0 percent, also had rates significantly 
below the U.S. average. Two divisions had unemployment rates that were measurably 
higher than that of the U.S.: the Pacific, 6.0 percent, and East South Central, 
5.9 percent.

State Unemployment

Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia had statistically significant 
unemployment rate decreases in 2015. The largest of these declines occurred in 
Michigan (-1.9 percentage points) and Rhode Island (-1.7 points). The remaining 
12 states had annual average jobless rates in 2015 that were not appreciably 
different from those of the previous year, though some had changes that were 
at least as large numerically as the significant changes. (See table A.)

North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate, 2.7 percent in 2015, followed 
by Nebraska and South Dakota, 3.0 percent and 3.1 percent, respectively. Nevada 
and West Virginia had the highest jobless rates among the states, 6.7 percent 
each. The District of Columbia had a rate of 6.9 percent. Overall, 20 states 
had unemployment rates that were significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 
5.3 percent, while 13 states and the District of Columbia had rates measurably 
above it. (See table B.)

Regional Employment-Population Ratios

In 2015, three regions had statistically significant changes in their 
employment-population ratios--the proportion of the civilian noninstitutional 
population 16 years of age and over who are employed--all of which were increases. 
These occurred in the Northeast (+0.7 percentage point), Midwest (+0.6 point), 
and West (+0.4 point). The Midwest had the highest ratio, 61.9 percent, while 
the South, at 57.9 percent, had the lowest. The ratios in these two regions
were the only ones that were significantly different from the national figure
of 59.3 percent. (See table 2.)

Four of the nine geographic divisions had significant changes in their employment-
population ratios from 2014 to 2015, all of which were increases: the Middle 
Atlantic (+0.8 percentage point), East North Central (+0.7 point), West North 
Central (+0.6 point), and Pacific (+0.5 point). The division with the highest 
employment-population ratio in 2015 was the West North Central, at 65.8 percent, 
followed by New England, at 62.0 percent. These two divisions, along with 
the East North Central and Mountain, at 60.2 percent and 60.1 percent, 
respectively, had employment-population ratios measurably above that of the 
U.S. The East South Central had the lowest proportion of employed persons, 
54.0 percent. The ratios in the South Atlantic (58.0 percent) and Pacific 
(58.5 percent) also were appreciably below the national average.

State Employment-Population Ratios

In 2015, the largest employment-population ratio increases among the states 
occurred in Missouri (+1.7 percentage points) and Delaware (+1.5 points). 
Seventeen other states and the District of Columbia also had statistically 
significant increases in their ratios. Four states had significant over-the-year 
decreases in their employment-population ratios, the largest of which occurred 
in North Dakota (-1.6 percentage points). (See table C.)

North Dakota had the highest proportion of employed persons, 69.1 percent in 
2015. Four other states in the West North Central division had the next highest 
ratios: Nebraska, 68.0 percent; Minnesota, 67.6 percent; Iowa, 67.3 percent; 
and South Dakota, 67.2 percent. West Virginia had the lowest employment-population 
ratio among the states, 49.4 percent. (West Virginia has had the lowest 
employment-population ratio each year since the series began in 1976.) Overall, 
25 states and the District of Columbia had employment-population ratios that 
were significantly above the U.S. ratio of 59.3 percent and 17 states had ratios 
that were appreciably below it. Three states had the lowest employment-population 
ratios in their series in 2015: Alaska, 62.7 percent; Kentucky, 53.7 percent; 
and New Mexico, 53.5 percent. (See table D.)

_____________
The Regional and State Employment and Unemployment news release for January 2016 
is scheduled to be released on Monday, March 14, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT). The 
Metropolitan Area Employment and Unemployment news release for January 2016 is 
scheduled to be released on Friday, March 18, 2016, at 10:00 a.m. (EDT).



Table A. States with statistically significant unemployment rate changes, 
2014-15 annual averages
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                |          Rate           |               
                                |-------------------------| Over-the-year 
             State              |            |            |  rate change  
                                |    2014    |    2015    |               
--------------------------------|------------|------------|---------------
Alabama ........................|     6.8    |     6.1    |      -0.7
Arizona ........................|     6.8    |     6.1    |       -.7
Arkansas .......................|     6.1    |     5.2    |       -.9
California .....................|     7.5    |     6.2    |      -1.3
Colorado .......................|     5.0    |     3.9    |      -1.1
Connecticut ....................|     6.6    |     5.6    |      -1.0
Delaware .......................|     5.7    |     4.9    |       -.8
District of Columbia ...........|     7.8    |     6.9    |       -.9
Florida ........................|     6.3    |     5.4    |       -.9
Georgia ........................|     7.1    |     5.9    |      -1.2
                                |            |            |
Hawaii .........................|     4.4    |     3.6    |       -.8
Idaho ..........................|     4.8    |     4.1    |       -.7
Illinois .......................|     7.1    |     5.9    |      -1.2
Indiana ........................|     5.9    |     4.8    |      -1.1
Iowa ...........................|     4.2    |     3.7    |       -.5
Kentucky .......................|     6.5    |     5.4    |      -1.1
Maine ..........................|     5.6    |     4.4    |      -1.2
Maryland .......................|     5.8    |     5.2    |       -.6
Massachusetts ..................|     5.7    |     5.0    |       -.7
Michigan .......................|     7.3    |     5.4    |      -1.9
                                |            |            |
Minnesota ......................|     4.2    |     3.7    |       -.5
Mississippi ....................|     7.6    |     6.5    |      -1.1
Missouri .......................|     6.2    |     5.0    |      -1.2
Montana ........................|     4.7    |     4.1    |       -.6
Nevada .........................|     7.9    |     6.7    |      -1.2
New Hampshire ..................|     4.3    |     3.4    |       -.9
New Jersey .....................|     6.7    |     5.6    |      -1.1
New York .......................|     6.3    |     5.3    |      -1.0
North Carolina .................|     6.3    |     5.7    |       -.6
Ohio ...........................|     5.8    |     4.9    |       -.9
                                |            |            |
Oregon .........................|     6.8    |     5.7    |      -1.1
Pennsylvania ...................|     5.9    |     5.1    |       -.8
Rhode Island ...................|     7.7    |     6.0    |      -1.7
Tennessee ......................|     6.5    |     5.8    |       -.7
Texas ..........................|     5.1    |     4.5    |       -.6
Vermont ........................|     4.0    |     3.7    |       -.3
Virginia .......................|     5.2    |     4.4    |       -.8
Washington .....................|     6.1    |     5.7    |       -.4
Wisconsin ......................|     5.4    |     4.6    |       -.8
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Table B. States with unemployment rates significantly differ-
ent from that of the U.S., 2015 annual averages
--------------------------------------------------------------
                State                |          Rate
--------------------------------------------------------------
United States .......................|           5.3
                                     |
Alabama .............................|           6.1
Alaska ..............................|           6.5
Arizona .............................|           6.1
California ..........................|           6.2
Colorado ............................|           3.9
District of Columbia ................|           6.9
Georgia .............................|           5.9
Hawaii ..............................|           3.6
Idaho ...............................|           4.1
Illinois ............................|           5.9
                                     |
Iowa ................................|           3.7
Kansas ..............................|           4.2
Louisiana ...........................|           6.3
Maine ...............................|           4.4
Minnesota ...........................|           3.7
Mississippi .........................|           6.5
Montana .............................|           4.1
Nebraska ............................|           3.0
Nevada ..............................|           6.7
New Hampshire .......................|           3.4
                                     |
New Mexico ..........................|           6.6
North Dakota ........................|           2.7
Ohio ................................|           4.9
Oklahoma ............................|           4.2
Rhode Island ........................|           6.0
South Carolina ......................|           6.0
South Dakota ........................|           3.1
Texas ...............................|           4.5
Utah ................................|           3.5
Vermont .............................|           3.7
                                     |
Virginia ............................|           4.4
West Virginia .......................|           6.7
Wisconsin ...........................|           4.6
Wyoming .............................|           4.2
--------------------------------------------------------------



Table C. States with statistically significant employment-population 
ratio changes, 2014-15 annual averages
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                |          Ratio          |               
                                |-------------------------| Over-the-year 
             State              |            |            | ratio change  
                                |    2014    |    2015    |               
--------------------------------|------------|------------|---------------
Arkansas .......................|    53.6    |    54.8    |       1.2
California .....................|    57.7    |    58.3    |        .6
Delaware .......................|    57.9    |    59.4    |       1.5
District of Columbia ...........|    64.0    |    65.3    |       1.3
Hawaii .........................|    59.0    |    59.7    |        .7
Illinois .......................|    60.2    |    60.9    |        .7
Indiana ........................|    59.6    |    60.7    |       1.1
Kentucky .......................|    54.8    |    53.7    |      -1.1
Maryland .......................|    62.9    |    63.4    |        .5
Michigan .......................|    56.2    |    57.1    |        .9
                                |            |            |
Minnesota ......................|    67.1    |    67.6    |        .5
Mississippi ....................|    50.8    |    52.2    |       1.4
Missouri .......................|    60.7    |    62.4    |       1.7
Montana ........................|    60.9    |    61.4    |        .5
Nebraska .......................|    68.4    |    68.0    |       -.4
Nevada .........................|    58.4    |    58.9    |        .5
New Jersey .....................|    59.7    |    60.5    |        .8
New York .......................|    57.0    |    57.9    |        .9
North Dakota ...................|    70.7    |    69.1    |      -1.6
Oklahoma .......................|    58.3    |    59.3    |       1.0
                                |            |            |
Pennsylvania ...................|    58.9    |    59.6    |        .7
Rhode Island ...................|    60.2    |    61.0    |        .8
South Carolina .................|    55.1    |    55.5    |        .4
Texas ..........................|    61.4    |    60.9    |       -.5
--------------------------------------------------------------------------



Table D. States with employment-population ratios significantly
different from that of the U.S., 2015 annual averages
----------------------------------------------------------------
                State                |          Ratio          
----------------------------------------------------------------
United States .......................|           59.3
                                     |
Alabama .............................|           53.0
Alaska ..............................|           62.7
Arizona .............................|           56.1
Arkansas ............................|           54.8
California ..........................|           58.3
Colorado ............................|           64.1
Connecticut .........................|           62.0
District of Columbia ................|           65.3
Florida .............................|           56.1
Georgia .............................|           57.7
                                     |
Idaho ...............................|           61.3
Illinois ............................|           60.9
Indiana .............................|           60.7
Iowa ................................|           67.3
Kansas ..............................|           65.0
Kentucky ............................|           53.7
Louisiana ...........................|           56.7
Maryland ............................|           63.4
Massachusetts .......................|           61.7
Michigan ............................|           57.1
                                     |
Minnesota ...........................|           67.6
Mississippi .........................|           52.2
Missouri ............................|           62.4
Montana .............................|           61.4
Nebraska ............................|           68.0
New Hampshire .......................|           66.0
New Jersey ..........................|           60.5
New Mexico ..........................|           53.5
New York ............................|           57.9
North Carolina ......................|           57.7
                                     |
North Dakota ........................|           69.1
Oregon ..............................|           57.6
Rhode Island ........................|           61.0
South Carolina ......................|           55.5
South Dakota ........................|           67.2
Tennessee ...........................|           55.9
Texas ...............................|           60.9
Utah ................................|           65.7
Vermont .............................|           64.4
Virginia ............................|           62.3
                                     |
West Virginia .......................|           49.4
Wisconsin ...........................|           64.8
Wyoming .............................|           64.9
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Last Modified Date: February 26, 2016