Strong Employment Growth Across Most States in February 2018


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 43 states and the District of Columbia, unchanged in Wyoming, and decreased in six states in February 2018 compared to January 2018. Year-over-year, 46 states and the District of Columbia increased in employment while three states, Alaska, North Dakota, and Delaware, lost payroll employment during this time. Louisiana reported no change in payroll employment. As a result of the geographic breadth in growth, payroll employment nationwide rose in February.

The largest increase in employment between January and February 2018 was in Texas (40,500), followed by New York (28,000) and Florida (26,700). The largest decrease in employment over the month occurred in Maryland (3,200), followed by Minnesota (1,300) and Montana (900). Between January and February 2018, in percentage terms, which adjust for the size of the state’s jobs market, the largest increases occurred in Virginia, Nevada, Tennessee, and Alaska (0.5%). During the same time period, the largest decreases occurred in Montana (0.2%), Vermont, Delaware, and Maryland (0.1%).

The U.S. has grown 1.6% in nonfarm payroll employment in February 2018 compared to year ago reflecting employment growth across the majority of the states and the District of Columbia. Only four states declined, by a combined 8,700 where North Dakota recorded the largest decline of 6,800. During the previous 12 months, the largest job gains occurred in California (383,600), Texas (285,200), and Florida (167,800). The largest percentage gains occurred in Idaho (3.4%), followed by Nevada and Utah (3.2%), and Washington (2.9%).

Since the Great Recession, the U.S. has grown 11.7% in nonfarm employment between December 2009 and December 2017. During this time, 17 states and the District of Columbia have recorded growth above the U.S. rate of 11.7%. Utah had the highest employment growth rate of 23.5% and Florida (18.5%) and Colorado (18.4%) rounded out the top three. Thirty-one states recorded employment growth ranges between 2.3%-11.5% while West Virginia (-0.1%) and Wyoming (-1.8%) declined in employment.

Nationwide, the unemployment rate was unchanged from January at 4.1% but was 0.6 percentage points lower than in February 2017. Compared to January 2018, the unemployment rate declined in 19 states and the District of Columbia, was unchanged in 24, and increased in seven states in February 2018. Hawaii had the lowest unemployment rate in February, 2.1%, followed by New Hampshire and North Dakota (2.6%), and Nebraska and Vermont (2.8%). Alaska had the highest jobless rate, 7.3%, followed by New Mexico (5.8%), and the District of Columbia (5.7%). Thirty-nine states and the District of Columbia had jobless rate decreases from a year earlier while five states recorded no change. Six states had an increase in the unemployment rate during this time.

In February, out of the 44 states which reported construction sector jobs data, 34 states had an increase, nine states reported a decline, and Alabama remained unchanged compared with January 2018. Connecticut had the largest increase in job growth with 2.6% followed by Mississippi, Indiana, and New York (2.0%). The largest decline was in Alaska where total employment in construction fell by 5.0%. Montana declined 2.1% and Kansas declining 1.2% during this time.

Year-over-year, West Virginia had the highest annual growth in its construction sector by 14.3%. Nevada (10.9%), and California (9.5%) round out the top three. Over this period, North Dakota reported the largest decline at 16.3%, followed by Iowa (8.5%) and Kansas (5.3%).

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