Memo to Hill re Stimulus Bill - All States Ill with Jobless Chill

As the Congress considers a stimulus package, let the new job numbers be heard throughout the Capitol, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning. Unemployment rates in December were higher for every state and the District of Columbia, whether measured in comparison with November or with the same month a year earlier.

The unemployment rates exceeded 10 percent in two states - Michigan and Rhode Island, which reached double-digit unemployment for the first time in the history of the current unemployment series (since 1976).

The number of jobs ("nonfarm payroll employment, seasonally adjusted") decreased from November to December in 48 states, and was unchanged in one (Oklahoma). Jobs increased only in Louisiana and the District of Columbia. The largest job decreases from November were in California (-78,200), Michigan (-59,000), New York (-54,000), Illinois (-36,000), Indiana (-35,300), and North Carolina (-34,900).

The largest percentage decreases in jobs from November to December were in Idaho (-1.6), followed by Michigan (-1.4 percent), Hawaii and Indiana (-1.2 percent each), and North Carolina and New Hampshire (-0.9 percent each).

The national unemployment rate rose from 6.8 to 7.2 percent in December compared with November and was 2.3 percentage points higher than a year earlier. The West and Midwest were above the national average. The West had the highest unemployment rate, 8 percent, up 2.9 percentage points. The Midwest was 7.5 percent, up 2.2 percentage points. The South was 7 percent, up 2.5 percentage points. The Northeast was 7 percent, up 2.4 percentage points. All four regions registered statistically significant rate increases from November.

In December, Michigan had the highest unemployment rate, 10.6 percent. Rhode Island was second at 10.0 percent, a record. Four additional states recorded rates of 9.0 percent or more: South Carolina, 9.5 percent; California, 9.3 percent; Nevada, 9.1 percent; and Oregon, 9.0 percent..

Jobs ("nonfarm payroll employment, seasonally adjusted") fell in almost all states. Between November and December 2008, 33 states reported statistically significant changes in number of jobs, all of which were decreases. The largest statistically significant decreases in jobs were experienced in California (-78,200), Michigan (-59,000), New York (-54,000), and Illinois(-36,000). Over the year, 30 states reported statistically significant changes in jobs with only one being an increase. The largest statistically significant over-the-year decreases occurred in California (-257,400), Florida (-255,200), Michigan (-173,000), and North Carolina (-120,200). The only statistically significant increase was recorded in Texas (+153,700).