The national unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent on Friday, but unemployment is already lower in nearly half the states.

[U.S. economy adds 223,000 jobs in April; unemployment falls to 5.4 percent]

Three states match the national level, while the jobless rate is lower in 24 others, according to the latest federal data. (The state rates lag the national rate, for April, by one month.)


The national rate is the lowest it’s been in seven years, which is also true for the rates in California and Idaho. But for eight other states, it’s been even longer since they last saw joblessness as low as it is today.

Nebraska’s unemployment rate of 2.6 percent, for example, is not only the lowest in the nation today but also the lowest the state has seen since the summer of 1998. In Kentucky, the current rate of 5.1 percent is the lowest since mid-2001. The same is true for Michigan, where unemployment is currently at 5.6 percent.

Nebraska is also home to the nation’s lowest jobless rate, a distinction it snatched in February from North Dakota, which held that title for more than six years straight.


Where unemployment is historically low. (Niraj Chokshi)