(CN) – Unemployment rates were lower in 17 states in March, and stable in 33 others and the District of Columbia, the Labor Department reported Friday. Meanwhile, in a separate report, the department reported a modest gain in wages in March, compared to a year ago.
The department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday that its findings of stability in the economy also extended to its year-over-year analysis, where 18 states saw a decline in their jobless rate and 32 states and the District of Columbia experienced little or no change.
The national unemployment rate meanwhile declined by 0.2 percentage point from February to 4.5 percent and was 0.5 point lower than in March 2016.
On a state by state basis, Colorado had the lowest unemployment rate in March, at 2.6 percent, followed by Hawaii, at 2.7 percent, and New Hampshire, North Dakota and South Dakota, which all came in at 2.8 percent.
The jobless rate in Colorado was an all-time for the state (all-time meaning since 1976, when the bureau began tracking the data). Other states seeing their lowest rates since the Ford administration included Arkansas
(3.6 percent), CMaine (3.0 percent), and Oregon (3.8 percent).
New Mexico had the highest jobless rate, at 6.7 percent.
The bureau said eighteen states had unemployment rate changes from March 2016, all of which were decreases. The
largest of these declines occurred in West Virginia (-1.3 percentage points) and Illinois and Nevada (-1.2 points each).
Nonfarm Payroll Employment
Four states had over-the-month decreases in nonfarm payroll employment in March 2017, and three
states had increases.
The largest decrease in employment over the month occurred in New Jersey (-17,500), followed by Pennsylvania (-16,100), Missouri (-13,400), and Louisiana (-8,500).
In percentage terms, the largest decrease occurred in Missouri (-0.5 percent), followed by Louisiana and
New Jersey (-0.4 percent each) and Pennsylvania (-0.3 percent).
The increases in employment over the month occurred in Washington (+10,700), Tennessee (+8,600), and Maine (+3,000).
The largest percentage increase occurred in Maine (+0.5 percent), followed by Tennessee and Washington (+0.3
Twenty-seven states had over-the-year increases in nonfarm payroll employment in March. The largest
job gains occurred in California (+346,400), Texas (+249,000), and Florida (+246,100).
The largest percentage gain occurred in Utah (+3.2 percent), followed by Florida, Georgia, and Nevada (+3.0
percent each). Two states had over-the-year declines in employment, Alaska (-6,900, or -2.1 percent)
and Wyoming (-6,100, or -2.1 percent).
The Labor Department’s wages report Friday found real average hourly earnings rose 0.3 percent year-over-year in March. However, it said the increase in real average hourly earnings combined with a 0.3-percent decrease in the average workweek resulted in no change in real average weekly earnings over the year.