For the first time in three decades, unemployment fell in every state and the District of Columbia last year.
The last time that happened, in 1984, Apple was unveiling the original Macintosh. Nearly half the nation — 24 states — saw the unemployment rate drop by one percentage point or more last year. Illinois saw the biggest decline, of 2 percentage points. Colorado, North Carolina and Ohio each saw a 1.8 point decline. North Dakota and Alaska saw the smallest declines of 0.1 percentage points.
North Dakota was also home to the nation’s lowest unemployment rate, of 2.8 percent. Nebraska was next, with a 3.3 percent rate, followed by South Dakota, with 3.4 percent unemployment. All told, 14 states had jobless rates below 5 percent. Mississippi and Nevada were home to the highest unemployment rates of 7.8 percent each. Rhode Island’s unemployment rate was next highest, at 7.7 percent.
Just over 70 percent of the working-age labor force in North Dakota was employed last year, more than in any other state. In Nebraska, that employment-to-population ratio was nearly 69 percent, while in Iowa it was just over 67 percent. West Virginia was the only state where less than half of the working-age labor force was employed.
Hawaii and Indiana saw the biggest increases in that ratio, with each seeing it rise by 1.4 percentage points. Tennessee and Mississippi saw the biggest declines, of 1.2 points. The ratio rose in 35 states, fell in 12 and was the same in three.