Unemployment Drops Below 3% in 10 States

If economists say full employment is 5%, then 10 states are filled to overflowing. Each has a jobless rate under 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

The national unemployment rate was 3.9% in April, the lowest it has been in almost 20 years. The economic theory about employment is that enough people move from job to job that 0% is unemployment is impossible. Many unemployed people are in and out of their jobs in a matter of weeks or even days. However, in some states the number is approaching zero, and, as has been pointed out frequently, this can cause a serious shortage of workers.

The states with particularly low joblessness are Colorado at 2.9%, Hawaii at 2.0%, Idaho at 2.9%, Iowa at 2.8%, Maine at 2.7%, Nebraska at 2.8%, New Hampshire at 2.6%, North Dakota at 2.6%, Vermont at 2.5% and Wisconsin at 2.8%.

Based on population, most of these states are small. Vermont, North Dakota, South Dakota, New Hampshire and Maine are among the bottom 10 states in population size.

The states also tend to be geographically grouped, but it is hard to come by a single explanation for this.

More BLS comment on state population:

Unemployment rates were lower in April in 4 states and stable in 46 states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Twelve states had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier and 38 states and the District had little or no change. The national unemployment rate edged down from March to 3.9 percent and was 0.5 percentage point lower than in April 2017.

Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 3 states in April 2018 and was essentially unchanged in 47 states and the District of Columbia. Over the year, 28 states added nonfarm payroll jobs, 1 state lost jobs, and 21 states and the District were essentially unchanged.

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Twenty-eight states had over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment in April. The largest job gains occurred in California (+356,800), Texas (+332,300), and Florida (+178,400). The largest percentage gain occurred in Nevada (+3.4 percent), followed by Idaho and Utah (+3.3 percent each). North Dakota lost jobs over the year (-7,900, or -1.8 percent).