A job seeker talks to a recruiter at a job fair expo in Anaheim, Calif.(Photo: Jae C. Hong, AP)
Unemployment rates fell in 45 states and the District of Columbia in
November, reflecting a sharp drop in the national jobless rate despite
Superstorm Sandy and the budget standoff in Washington.
Unemployment was unchanged in five states, the Bureau of Labor Statistics said Friday.
jobless rate fell dramatically in several states, with the largest
declines in Louisiana and Nevada. The rate dropped to 5.8% from 6.6% in
Louisiana and to 10.8% from 11.5% in Nevada.
Nevada continued to
have the highest unemployment rate at 10.8%, followed by Rhode Island at
10.4%. North Dakota, which is making the most of an oil boom, continued
to have the lowest rate at 3.1%
Unemployment also declined to 7.6% from 8.2% in Tennessee, to 7.5% from 8.1% in Alabama, and to 8.5% from 9% in Mississippi.
drops in unemployment rates don't always indicate strong job growth.
The national unemployment rate fell to 7.7% from 7.9% last month as
350,000 Americans dropped out of the labor force, which includes those
employed and looking for work, BLS reported earlier this month.
While some of those were discouraged workers who gave up job
searches, many Baby Boomers are retiring, slowing the growth of the
labor force and allowing the unemployment rate to fall even with modest
Since August, for example, the economy has added an
average 139,000 jobs a month but the unemployment rate has declined to
7.7% from 8.1%. Traditionally, job gains of at least 200,000 a month
have been needed to quickly lower unemployment.
Federal Reserve last week agreed to continue its easy-money policies,
with Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke noting the labor market is "a bit weaker"
than the jobless rate suggests.
On Thursday, the
government revised up its estimate of economic growth in the third
quarter to 3.1% from 2.7%, noting exports and consumer spending were
stronger than initially believed. And while consumer sentiment has
weakened during federal budget battles, the housing market continues to
rebound, and the government reported Friday that personal spending rose solidly in November.
Businesses, however, have tempered hiring and investment amid
uncertainty about the package of year-end spending cuts and tax hikes
known as the fiscal cliff. It could push the U.S. back into recession if
Congress and the White House can't agree on a plan to soften its
impact. Still, a closely-watched measure of capital spending increased
sharply in November, the government reported Friday.