In 2013, as evidenced by the Bureau of Labor Statistics “Regional and State Unemployment — 2013 Annual Averages” report, the unemployment rate decreased in 43 U.S. states, plus the District of Columbia. It rose in only 2 states, and remained unchanged in 5 states. On average, the national rate fell 0.7 percent from the previous year, with December 2013 seeing the largest year-to-year rate drop of 1.2 percent. By the end of 2013, the national unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent — the lowest since October 2008 — and in January 2014, the rate inched down to 6.6 percent.
All four U.S. regions saw remarkable decreases in their unemployment rates, with the West having the largest drop of 1.2 percentage points. While the West had the largest decrease, it still was well above the national rate, at 8.0 percent. Conversely, the South region had the only unemployment rate significantly below the national average, at 7.0 percent.
Zooming into the 9 geographic divisions, 6 of them had notable year-to-year unemployment rate decreases. The largest decrease occurred in the Pacific — which dropped 1.4 percent, and the South Atlantic — which fell 1.0 percent. Just like its parent region the Pacific had the largest percentage drop, but unfortunately retained the highest national unemployment rate of 8.4 percent — an unwanted title it has owned for the sixth year in a row.
Looking at the state level, 25 states plus the District of Columbia had significant unemployment rate decreases in 2013. The largest decreases were Nevada (shedding 1.7 percentage points), Florida (dropping 1.6 percent) and California (decrease of 1.5 percent). Additionally, 6 more states had a decrease of at least 1.0 percent.
Here are a few geographic divisions that saw significant changes in employment in 2013:
These states — consisting of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — saw an overall unemployment rate decrease of 0.8 percent, bringing the division’s end of year rate to 7.7 percent. The state of New Jersey had the highest unemployment rate of the division at 8.2 percent, though their rate dropped 1.1 percent in 2013. Pennsylvania had the lowest divisional unemployment rate (7.4 percent) by the end of the year.
According the BLS, the South Atlantic had the second largest decrease of any geographic division — shaving 1.0 percent from its unemployment rate. The top performing state in the division was Florida, who (as we mentioned above) dropped 1.6 percent, bringing their unemployment rate to 7.2 percent at the end of the year.
This division’s unemployment rate dropped 0.9 percent in 2013, third most in the country. As referenced above, Nevada led the division with a 1.7 percent decrease in their unemployment rate — though their unemployment rate finished the year at 9.8 percent, the highest in the United States. Utah at 4.4 percent ended up with the lowest unemployment rate in the division.
The Pacific had the largest unemployment rate decrease in the Union, dropping 1.4 percent in 2013. While California still showed the highest unemployment rate (8.9 percent) at the end of the year, it dropped a whopping 1.5 percent from its previous year totals. In the division, Hawaii had the lowest unemployment rate (4.8 percent), dropping 0.9 percent from the end of 2012.