Unemployment Rates by State

Unemployment rates in the United States vary quite a bit by state. The unemployment rate in the nation was 5.5% in May of 2015 . Below is a table with 2011 – 2015 unemployment rates of selected states (most of the states not listed have unemployment rates close to the average national unemployment rate). The table shows that in 2015 Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah, and South Dakota have the lowest unemployment rates. The highest rates are in states with lingering effects of the 2008 housing crisis and/or have high rates of taxation compared to neighboring states: Alaska, South Carolina, West Virginia, Nevada, and the District of Columbia. Since 2012 all states except North Dakota (it remained the same) have experienced a decrease in unemployment. For the most part, this is because the economy improved (a good thing). An other reason is that people have dropped out of the labor force because they have become discouraged and have stopped looking for work (not a good thing). A person who does not have a job and has stopped looking for work is no longer counted as unemployed.

State/Region Unemployment Rate (2011, seasonally adjusted) Unemployment Rate (2012, seasonally adjusted) Unemployment Rate (April, 2015, seasonally adjusted)
United States 9.1 7.7 5.5
Alaska 7.4 6.8 6.7
California 11.7 9.8 6.3
Delaware 8.0 6.7 4.5
Florida 10.6 8.1 5.6
Hawaii 6.0 5.3 4.1
Iowa 6.0 4.9 3.8
Kansas 6.6 5.4 4.3
Maine 7.7 7.2 4.7
Maryland 6.8 6.6 5.3
Massachusetts 7.6 6.6 4.7
Michigan 10.3 8.9 5.4
Minnesota 6.6 5.7 3.7
Montana 7.3 5.8 4.0
Nebraska 4.1 3.7 2.5
Nevada 12.1 10.8 7.1
New Hampshire 6.9 5.6 3.8
New Mexico 4.0 6.2 6.2
New York 7.9 8.3 5.7
North Dakota 3.2 3.1 3.1
Oklahoma 5.3 5.2 4.1
Pennsylvania 7.4 7.8 5.3
Rhode Island 10.9 10.4 6.1
South Dakota 4.8 4.4 3.6
Texas 8.0 6.2 4.2
Utah 7.3 5.1 3.4
Vermont 5.4 5.2 3.6
Virginia 6.0 5.6 4.8
Wisconsin 7.4 6.7 4.4
Wyoming 6.0 5.1 4.1
District of Columbia 10.5 8.9 7.5

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015.

Unemployment Rates by Group

Unemployment rates in the United States vary significantly by group. Below is a table with 2008, 2012, and 2014 unemployment rates by selected demographic groups. The table shows that residents of Asian descent have the lowest unemployment rate, and Black or of African American descent, the highest. Among all groups, teenagers have the highest unemployment rates. Of particularly concern is the high unemployment rate among Black or African American descent residents. The overall rate for Black or African American labor force participants was 11.3% in 2014. The rate for Black or African American teenagers  (16 Р19 years) was particularly concerning at 33% in 2014. Regarding education levels, it is clear that the likelihood for unemployment decreases among people with more advanced degrees. People with less advanced degrees are especially hit hard when it comes to unemployment during stagnant economic times.

Demographic Group Unemployment Rate (Percentage), 2008 Unemployment Rate (Percentage), 2012 Unemployment Rate (Percentage), December, 2014
Total United States 5.0 7.7 5.8
All Women and Men 16 – 19 Years of Age 19.2 24.4 17.7
All Women 16 – 19 Years of Age 21.4
All Men 16 – 19 Years of Age 17.7
Men, 25 – 54 Years 5.1 8.2 5.2
Women, 25 – 54 Years 4.7 7.6 5.3
Black or African American, 16 years and Older 9.5 15.8 11.3
Black or African American, 16 – 19 years of Age 41.3 33.0
Caucasian or White, 16 Years and Older 5.0 7.9 5.3
Hispanic or Latino, 16 Years and Older 7.7 11.5 6.5
Asian, 16 Years and Older NA 7.0 5.0
Less than a High School Diploma, 25 Years and Older 8.8 14.1 8.6
High School Graduates, 25 Years and Older 5.2 9.4 5.3
Associates Degree, 25 Years and Older 4.3 6.8 4.9
Bachelor’s Degree, 25 Years and Older 2.4 4.3 2.9

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. For more information, visit http://www.bls.gov/cps/demographics.htm