As Washington state unemployment goes, so goes the nation

September 6, 2013

You know what they say: As Washington state goes, so goes the nation.

Okay, nobody says that. But maybe we should. In the four years since the recession ended, Washington has deviated the least on average from the national unemployment rate, which was 7.3 percent in August, the Labor Department reported on Friday morning. State unemployment rates are released on a delay, but the rate in Washington in July was 6.8 percent, much less than the national average of 7.4 percent.

While Washington state far outdid the national rate last month, it has differed by an average of  only 0.45 percentage points each month since July 2009, the first month after the recession ended, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Tennessee and Connecticut were close seconds, deviating an average 0.51 percentage points, followed by Indiana with an average 0.53 pecentage-point deviation. Arizona was next, at 0.55 percentage points off each month.

North Dakota was the biggest outlier, coming in at a full 5.3 percentage points off the national monthly rate on average. That should come as little surprise, given that state’s enormous oil boom. Nebraska followed with an average 4.45 percentage-point deviation, followed by South Dakota at 4.10 percentage points.

Top states in which unemployment by race is in line with the national average are New York, Arizona and Pennsylvania. Unemployment rates overall and for whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, men and women in those states were closest to the national average in July.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.
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