March 31, 2017
In February 2017, the unemployment rates in both Arkansas and Oregon set new series lows, 3.7 percent and 4.0 percent, respectively. These are the lowest rates in these states since the beginning of the BLS state unemployment data series in 1976.
Note: Links lead to most recently published and revised Local Area Unemployment Statistics data, which may have been made available after the accompanying chart was created.
In Arkansas, the unemployment rate has been at or below 4.1 percent since February 2016. These past 12 months are the only months since 1976 that the unemployment rate in Arkansas has been this low. Oregon's unemployment rate has been at or below 5.1 percent since December 2015; Oregon's unemployment rate was also below 5.1 percent during parts of 1994 and 1995, 2000, and 2007.
Over the 1976–2016 period, the unemployment rates in Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota were typically lower than rates in other states. Unemployment rates in New Hampshire, Iowa, Vermont, Kansas, Virginia, Utah, and Minnesota were also often among the lowest during these years.
Unemployment rates in West Virginia, Michigan, and Alaska were higher than most other states at various times during the 1976–2016 period. The District of Columbia, Mississippi, California, Louisiana, Alabama, Oregon, Washington, and Illinois also often had unemployment rates that were among the highest over this period.
In February 2017, New Hampshire's unemployment rate was 2.7 percent—the lowest among all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It was closely followed by Hawaii and South Dakota, 2.8 percent each, and Colorado and North Dakota, 2.9 percent each. New Mexico had the highest rate, 6.8 percent, followed by Alaska and Alabama, 6.4 percent and 6.2 percent, respectively.
From February 2016 to February 2017, there were 9 states with statistically significant unemployment rate changes, all of which were decreases. The largest of these decreases occurred in Nevada (−1.2 percentage points. from 6.1 percent to 4.9 percent), West Virginia (−1.1 points. from 6.3 percent to 5.2 percent), and South Carolina (−1.0 point, from 5.4 percent to 4.4 percent). The national unemployment rate, 4.7 percent in February 2017, was 0.2 percentage point lower than in February 2016.
The state unemployment data are from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program and are seasonally adjusted. Data for the most recent month are preliminary. To learn more, see "State Employment and Unemployment — February 2017" (HTML) (PDF). For more charts and tables related to state employment and unemployment, see the State unemployment chart package.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, The Economics Daily, Unemployment rates in Arkansas and Oregon at record lows in February 2017 at https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/unemployment-rates-in-arkansas-and-oregon-at-record-lows-in-february-2017.htm (visited April 21, 2021).