State job numbers redux

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companies hiringThe employment situation isn’t all hugs and roses just yet. But after two years of nothing but bad news, most of us will take the good news where we can get it.

On Monday, we told you about the AP report which stated that the national economic stress level hit an 18-month low point in October. While that doesn’t mean that stress has been eliminated, it does mean that more areas are under less economic stress, which is better than fewer areas under more stress. We’ll take it.

Today, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released regional and state unemployment numbers for November and they showed little change month-over-month, we focused on the bigger picture instead; which is that year-over-year, the employment situation has shown an improvement.

Consider this: In 2009, when the regional and state job numbers for November came out, the BLS stated that, “Over the year, jobless rates increased in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” This morning, just one year later, the report reads “Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia posted unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier,” meaning that, in 28 out of 50 states and in Washington, D.C., the employment situation has improved during the last year. Though it would be better to say that every state showed a decline in unemployment, this glass is still slightly more than half full.

So while we still have a bumpy road ahead of us, we can be happy for the progress that has been made, and hope that by this time next year, we’ll be able to say that the employment situation improved in every state in the country.  

Below are the 11 states, plus Washington D.C., that have posted the largest drop in unemployment since this time last year:

1. Michigan: -2 percent (While Michigan still has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation, it’s on the road to recovery. Michigan posted a larger drop in unemployment rate than any other state this year).

2. Alabama: -1.7 percent

3. District of Columbia: -1.8 percent

4. South Carolina: -1.7 percent

5. New Hampshire: -1.5 percent

6. Illinois: -1.3 percent

7. Tennessee: -1.3 percent

8. North Carolina: -1.2 percent

9. Massachusetts:  -1 percent

10. Ohio: -1 percent 

11. Vermont: -1 percent

12. Wisconsin: -1 percent

The decrease in year-over-year unemployment rates and the AP report about economic stress we mentioned above aren’t the only positive economic indicators received this week, either. Additionally, the Labor Department reported this week that first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell for the third time in four weeks and, according to an article on, “The four-week average of claims also slid for the sixth straight week, reaching the lowest level since July 2008. That was before Lehman Brothers collapsed and markets seized up at the height of the financial crisis.” So, although the lives of so many Americans still may not be back to normal, these positive signs give us at least a little hope for better things to come in 2011.

For more on the nation’s employment situation, see:

November job numbers redux

Really? New report says it’s easier to find a job when unemployed

October job numbers redux

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