Jul 24, 2023 - Economy

Jobs boom at the state level

Unemployment rate, June 2023
Data: BLS; Map: Axios Visuals

The job market is humming nationally, but zoom in and you get another extraordinary snapshot: Many states across the country are experiencing all-time lows in unemployment.

Why it matters: Labor market boom times are supporting local economies, with parts of the country experiencing tighter conditions than some residents have seen in their lifetimes.

By the numbers: From Pennsylvania to Washington to Alabama, 17 states saw jobless rates hit new record lows or hold at a previously notched low in June, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • That group includes New Hampshire and South Dakota. Both are tied for lowest unemployment rates in the nation at 1.8% in June, both ticking down from 1.9%. (Nationally, the unemployment rate was 3.6%).
  • Fourteen other states, including Florida (2.6%), Kentucky (3.8%) and Montana (2.4%), have unemployment rates hovering 0.1 or 0.2 percentage points above all-time low levels.

The intrigue: The strong labor market conditions may be politically awkward for red-state politicians who are touting big job gains and have also criticized the state of the economy under the Biden administration.

  • That dynamic was on display after the state-level employment data was released Friday. Republican governors of South Dakota and Mississippi praised record-low unemployment rates — a fact the White House gleefully pointed out to reporters.
  • Axios' Hans Nichols found that a number of these states are also benefiting from the manufacturing jobs boom, something to which Biden-era legislation has contributed.

What to watch: There are signs of deteriorating labor market conditions in a few states — a reality not reflected at the national level.

  • That includes the nation's most populous state, California. The unemployment rate has jumped 0.8 percentage points to 4.6% since hitting a record low in August 2022.
  • Nevada had the highest jobless rate among U.S. states in June, at 5.4%.
Go deeper