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First Cut: August state and regional unemployment rates broadly similar to prior month

Unemployment rates by state were broadly quite similar to the prior month in the August report, and most were within a tenth or two of the national unemployment rate of 3.7% which has held since June. The BLS said 5 states had lower rates than in the prior month, 3 were higher, and rates were unchanged in 42 states and the District of Columbia. While there is variation in the unemployment rate across the US, most states are experiencing very low levels of unemployment and tight labor markets.

The ten states with the largest share of the labor force showed no sign of deterioration from the prior month.

In the Northeast overall, the unemployment rate held at 3.6%. Both New York (4.0%) and Pennsylvania (3.9%) had no change in August from July.

In the Midwest, the regional rate was down a tenth (3.6% after 3.7%) but not materially different overall. Illinois had the unemployment rate dip two-tenths in August (4.0% after 4.2%). The rate was down a tenth in Michigan (4.2% after 4.3%), but up a tenth in Ohio (4.1% after 4.0%). However, there was nothing to suggest any profound change in conditions.

The South’s unemployment rate was down a tenth in August from July (3.5% after 3.6%), but the states with the largest share of the labor force were unchanged. These were Florida (3.3%), Georgia (3.6%), North Carolina (4.2%), and Texas (3.4%).

The unemployment rate in the West edged one-tenth lower in August (4.0% after 4.1%). California’s unemployment rate was flat (4.1%).

The level change in the 10 states with the largest share of the national labor force all registered modest-to-moderate increases except Illinois where the decrease was minimal.

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