In February, the U.S. unexpectedly added 175,000 jobs to the economy — which was the first time since November that more than 129,000 jobs were added. The majority of U.S. states followed suit to the national surge. In total, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 33 states and decreased in 17 states, plus the District of Columbia.
Looking closer at February unemployment rates, 29 states saw decreases from January, 10 had increases, while 11 states plus the District of Columbia stayed the same. Impressively, 49 states plus the District of Columbia realized unemployment rate decreases from the previous year—further proof that the U.S. economy is strengthening at a steady, yet prolonged pace.
Regionally, the West had the highest unemployment rate in February—reporting at 7.2 percent—0.5 percent higher than the national rate. The South showed the lowest unemployment rate of 6.1 percent. Over the course of the year all four regions had remarkable unemployment rate declines—with the South and Northeast dropping 1.2 percent each, the West decreasing 1.1 percent, and the Midwest shedding 0.8 percentage points.
Here are some key divisional highlights from the “Regional and State Employment and Unemployment Summary — February 2014”:
Unfortunately, the Pacific continued to have the highest divisional unemployment rate, reporting 7.6 percent for the month. Yet on a positive note, California had the largest monthly employment gains of any state in February, adding an impressive 58,000 jobs to the economy.
West North Central
Even though they saw a 0.2 percent increase, this division once again led the nation in having the lowest unemployment rate, reporting at 5.0 percent. North Dakota had the lowest state unemployment in the division—coming in at 2.6 percent—which is almost 4 percentage points lower than the national rate. Further proving the division’s strength, South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and Nebraska were also well below the national unemployment rate of 6.7 percent.
West South Central
This division had a great month—showing an unemployment rate of 5.6 percent—second best of all U.S. divisions, and well below the national rate. Texas led the charge by adding 37,600 jobs in the month, lowering their unemployment rate to 5.7 percent. Louisiana still owns the lowest unemployment rate of the division, at 4.5 percent.
Contributing to the South’s strong regional performance was the South Atlantic division, showing a 6.1 percent unemployment rate. Once again, Florida was a large reason why the division possessed a rate well below the national number, as it added 33,400 jobs to the economy. Virginia continued to boast the division’s lowest state unemployment rate of 4.9 percent.