Job Growth Decline in December: State-Level Analysis


Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 29 states and the District of Columbia in December compared to the previous month but the job losses in the remining 21 states erased the job gains. The largest increase came from Texas, which added 64,200 jobs during this time. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nationwide total nonfarm payroll employment decreased by 140,000 for the first time in seven months, over the month of December, following an increase of 336,000 jobs in November.

Month-over-month (MoM), total nonfarm employment was slowing across all regions. Total nonfarm employment increased only in the South by 0.4%. The other regions posted declines of 0.4% in the Northeast and 0.2% in the Midwest and the West.

Year-over-year (YoY), total nonfarm employment fell by 9.4 million jobs on a seasonally adjusted basis (SA), or -6.2% from December 2019 to December 2020. During this time, total nonfarm employment decreased across all the regions.  The Northeast declined by 8.9%, the West region by 6.5%, the Midwest by 6.3%, and the South by 3.7%.

On a month-over-month basis, employment data was strong in Texas adding 64,200 jobs, followed by Georgia (+44,700) and North Carolina (+33,600). The other 26 states and the District of Columbia added 177,400 jobs during this time. Twenty-one states lost a total of 346,400 jobs. In percentage terms, Hawaii increased by 2.0% while Minnesota reported a decline of 1.8% between November and December.

Year-over-year, ending in December, except for Utah (+9,300) and Idaho (+4,600 jobs), all other states and the District of Columbia decreased in employment, totaling 9.4 million jobs lost across the country. The range of job losses span 12,300 jobs lost in Wyoming to 1.4 million job lost in California. In percentage terms, Hawaii reported the steepest decline at 13.8% while Mississippi lost 1.4% of nonfarm payroll compared to a year ago. Idaho and Utah increased nonfarm payroll employment by 0.6% during this time.

In the construction sector specifically, which includes both residential and non-residential construction, across the 48 states which reported construction sector jobs data, 36 states reported an increase in December compared to November, while ten states lost construction sector jobs. North Carolina and Rhode Island reported no change. California added 31,600 construction jobs while Arizona lost 4,100 construction sector jobs during this time. Overall, the construction industry added 51,000 jobs in December compared to the previous month.  In percentage terms, New Hampshire increased by 4.0% while Arizona reported a decline of 2.3% between November and December.

Year-over-year, the U.S lost 142,000 construction sector jobs, which is a 1.9% decrease compared to December 2019. Virginia added 11,300 jobs, which was the largest gains of any state, while Texas lost 33,600 jobs, which was the largest decline of any state. In percentage terms, South Dakota had the highest annual growth rate in construction sector by 7.5%. Over this period, Vermont reported the largest decline at 23.1%.

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