The Washington Post

In 16 states, unemployment is at its lowest in at least four years

Job seekers meet with recruiters at a job fair. (Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty.)

Unemployment reached multi-year lows for about a third of states last month, but a full jobs recovery is still not here.

Sixteen states saw the jobless rate in October fall to its lowest level in more than four years. In all but two, October unemployment was at its lowest level since late 2008 or the early months of 2009. In Minnesota, unemployment hasn’t been this low since January 2008. And it’s been more than a decade since North Dakota saw an unemployment rate of 2.7 percent as it did in October. (The last time was August 2001.) In all, unemployment dropped from September to last month in 39 states. And only three states—Arkansas, Oklahoma and Ohio—saw nearly two-year highs.

But the situation isn’t as rosy as those statistics suggest. The jobs recovery still pales in comparison to the recoveries following the 1981, 1990 and 2001 recessions, according to data from Doug Hall, director of the Economic Analysis and Research Network at the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank focused on the needs of low- and middle-income workers.

Unemployment had nearly or fully recovered this many months after the start of the three other recessions, as depicted in Hall’s chart below. In the aftermath of the Great Recession, however, it remains high relative to where it was at the start.

(Credit: Economic Policy Institute.)
(Credit: Economic Policy Institute.)

That subdued job recovery also means jobs growth is lagging behind population growth. Only one state has added jobs faster than it’s added people since the Great Recession began, according to Hall’s research. That state is North Dakota, home to a big oil boom. In 11 states, the deficit between job and population growth is greater than 10 percent. Nevada, home to a particularly bad housing bust, has the largest, at 18 percent. The map below shows each state’s job-to–population deficit.

The 16 states that saw unemployment reach its lowest point in 4.5 or more years are Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.



Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Video curated for you.
Next Story
Niraj Chokshi · November 24, 2013

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.