January 28, 2004
Four States reported jobless rates below 4.0 percent at the end of 2003. North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in December 2003, 3.2 percent, followed by South Dakota, 3.4 percent, Virginia, 3.6 percent, and Nebraska, 3.7 percent.
Three States recorded rates over 7.0 percent. Alaska had the highest rate, 7.7 percent, followed by Michigan and Oregon, with rates of 7.2 percent each. The national jobless rate was 5.7 percent in December.
Compared with December 2002, jobless rates were lower in 32 States, higher in 17 States, and unchanged in 1 State. Mississippi posted the largest rate drop over the year (-2.0 percentage points), and Utah recorded the next largest decline (-1.6 points). Michigan registered the largest jobless rate increase from a year earlier (+1.0 percentage point), followed by Tennessee (+0.8 point) and South Dakota (+0.6 point).
These data come from the BLS Local Area Unemployment Statistics program. Data for December 2003 are preliminary. More State unemployment statistics are available in "Regional and State Employment and Unemployment: December 2003" (PDF) (TXT), news release USDL 04-81.