Which States Have The Highest And Lowest Unemployment Rates?

The BLS updated unemployment levels at the state level today. Let's take a look at states doing well and poorly.

State Unemployment Levels for December 2020

Please consider the BLS report on State Unemployment Levels for December 2020.

Key Points

  • In December 2020, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 15 states, decreased in 11 states, and was essentially unchanged in 24 states and the District of Columbia. 
  • Hawaii and Nevada had the highest unemployment rates in December, 9.3 percent and 9.2 percent,  respectively. Nebraska and South Dakota had the lowest rates, 3.0 percent each. 
  • 25 states had jobless rates lower than the U.S. figure of 6.7 percent, 10 states and the District of Columbia had higher rates, and 15 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation. 
  • Over the year, nonfarm payroll employment decreased in 48 states and the District of Columbia and was essentially unchanged in 2 states. 
  • The largest job declines occurred in California (-1,410,000), New  York (-1,020,700), and Michigan (-486,800). The largest percentage declines occurred in Hawaii (-13.8 percent), Michigan (-10.9 percent), and New York (-10.4 percent). 

Lowest Unemployment Rates December 2020

  1. South Dakota: 3.0
  2. Nebraska: 3.0%
  3. Iowa: 3.1%
  4. Vermont: 3.1%
  5. Utah: 3.6%
  6. Kansas: 3.8%
  7. Alabama: 3.9%
  8. New Hampshire: 4.0%

The above states all had unemployment rates 4.0% or below.

Highest Unemployment Rates December 2020

  1. Hawaii: 9.3%
  2. Nevada: 9.2%
  3. California: 9.0%
  4. Colorado: 8.4%
  5. New Mexico: 8.2%
  6. New York: 8.2%
  7. Rhode Island: 8.1%
  8. Connecticut: 8.0%
  9. District of Columbia: 7.9%
  10. Illinois: 7.6%

Historical Chart

(Click on image to enlarge)

Unemployment Rates by State 2020-12 Historical

Rural farm states like Nebraska, South Dakota, and Iowa have very stable employment rates vs industrial states, strong public union states, and states that depend on tourism like Hawaii and Nevada.

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