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14 states are already beating the best Fed estimates for 2016 U.S. unemployment

In the map above, darker shaded states have higher unemployment rates. Hover over a state to see its June unemployment rate.

Fourteen states have unemployment rates below 5 percent, the low-end of a range of Federal Reserve officials’ predictions for where the U.S. rate will be by 2016.

Projections can be highly variable, but they offer a rough benchmark against which to set expectations and policy. Economists generally expect the national unemployment rate to settle around the 5 to 6 percent range over the next few years. In a June survey, Federal Reserve Board members and Federal Reserve Bank presidents offered a narrower 5.0 to 5.6 percent range of predictions, at least for 2016.

More than a dozen states are below—in some cases well below—those estimates, according to June unemployment figures released on Friday. Here’s a look at three other takeaways from the report:

Unemployment is significantly below the national rate in 17 states

As of June, 17 states had unemployment rates lower—in a statistically meaningful way—than the U.S. rate of 6.1 percent. Eight states had significantly higher rates. Half the states had rates either equal to the national rate or so close to it that they were not different in a statistically significant way.

34 states had significant year-over-year declines

While no states saw unemployment rise in a statistically significant way, 34 states saw it decline from June 2013 to last month. South Carolina, Nevada and Illinois saw the largest declines, shaving 2.5, 2.3 and 2.1 percentage points off their unemployment rates. Despite those big drops, Nevada and Illinois are still among the 10 states with the highest unemployment rates.

Most states are already in the 5 to 6 percent range

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

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