October Jobless Rates Down in 37 States, Up in 8

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nam Y Huh/AP/Shutterstock (11002151b)Woman reacts as she leaves after she checked information signs at IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) WorkNet center in Arlington Heights, Ill.
©Nam Y Huh/AP/Shutterstock

New data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) published on Friday found that the unemployment rate was on the decline in most states in October, while a number of areas saw an increase in jobless claims. Unemployment rates were lower in 37 states and the District of Columbia, higher in 8 states, and stable in 5 states

The national unemployment rate declined by 1.0% point over the month to 6.9% —  3.3 points higher than where it was in October 2019. Though the national unemployment rate stands at 6.9%, this figure varies by state. Here’s a list of the states that are faring better, and with what percentage of unemployment:

  • Alabama: 5.8%
  • Alaska: 5.9%
  • Delaware: 5.6%
  • Georgia: 4.5%
  • Idaho: 5.5%
  • Indiana: 5.0%
  • Iowa: 3.6%
  • Kansas: 5.3%
  • Maine: 5.4%
  • Michigan: 5.5%
  • Minnesota: 4.6%
  • Missouri: 4.6%
  • Montana: 4.9%
  • Nebraska: 3.0%
  • New Hampshire: 4.2%
  • North Dakota: 4.8%
  • Ohio: 5.6%
  • Oklahoma: 6.1%
  • South Carolina: 4.2%
  • South Dakota: 3.6%
  • Utah: 4.1%
  • Vermont: 3.2%
  • Virginia: 5.3%
  • Washington: 6.0%
  • Wisconsin: 5.7%
  • Wyoming: 5.5  %

And here’s a look at states that are faring worse that the national average:

  • Arizona:  8.0%
  • California : 9.3%
  • District of Columbia: 8.2%
  • Hawaii: 14.3%
  • Louisiana: 9.4%
  • Maryland: 7.8%
  • Nevada 12.0%
  • New Jersey: 8.2%
  • New Mexico: 8.1%
  • New York: 9.6%

A state’s unemployment rate hinges on its local economy. For instance, Hawaii is at a whopping 14.3% unemployment rate largely because it heavily relies on tourism, which has been decimated by the pandemic. The same goes for Nevada, where casinos and resorts have been hard hit. But COVID-19 cases also play a vicious role here. New York, the epicenter of the pandemic in spring, still hasn’t fully recovered from the first wave of the virus, and this shows in its high unemployment rate of 9.6%.

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As new COVID-19 infection cases rise to all-time highs with no end in sight, we could see the national job rate go back up in affected states. We’ll likely see more resounding impacts in the new year after millions of Americans lose their unemployment benefits in December and federal aid programs run out.

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About the Author

Nicole Spector is a writer, editor, and author based in Los Angeles by way of Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Vogue, the Atlantic, Vice, and The New Yorker. She's a frequent contributor to NBC News and Publishers Weekly. Her 2013 debut novel, "Fifty Shades of Dorian Gray" received laudatory blurbs from the likes of Fred Armisen and Ken Kalfus, and was published in the US, UK, France, and Russia — though nobody knows whatever happened with the Russian edition! She has an affinity for Twitter.

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