Payrolls increased in 31 U.S. states in June and the unemployment rate fell in 21 as the labor market made strides across the nation.
New York led the advance in employment with a 25,500 gain, followed by California with 23,000 more jobs, figures from the Labor Department showed Tuesday in Washington.
Employers are taking on workers as the world’s largest economy picks up pace, recovering from cutbacks related to the plunge in oil prices and headwinds including weak overseas markets. Progress on employment is among reasons Federal Reserve policy makers are looking at raising interest rates this year.
“Job growth is fairly solid,” said Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in Charlotte, North Carolina. “There’s broad-based improvement across most of the country.”
Nebraska had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, holding at 2.6 percent, while West Virginia had the highest at 7.4 percent.
Unemployment showed the biggest statistically significant decrease over the prior month in New Jersey, falling 0.4 percentage point to 6.1 percent.
State and local employment data are derived independently from the national statistics, which are typically released on the first Friday of every month. The state figures are subject to larger sampling errors because they come from smaller surveys, thus making the national figures more reliable, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The national report, released on July 2, showed payrolls climbed by 223,000 in June following a 254,000 increase the prior month. The U.S. jobless rate fell to a seven-year low of 5.3 percent, while wages stagnated and the size of the labor force receded.
Even with lingering woes in the oil industry in Texas, the state’s jobless rate dropped to 4.2 percent from 4.3 percent in the previous month.
Crude slumped below $50 a barrel in New York on Monday for the first time in more than three months on speculation that Iranian shipments will climb, extending a global glut. Oil’s recovery from a six-year low has faltered amid speculation the surplus will be prolonged as U.S. drillers return rigs to fields and Iran seeks to regain market share.
Hiring gains helped California’s unemployment rate to drop to 6.3 percent from 6.4 percent. Demand in the technology, life sciences and creative industries is helping boost job creation in the state, said Wells Fargo’s Vitner.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen earlier this month repeated that the central bank is likely to raise its main interest rate this year, assuming its forecasts for stronger growth and lower unemployment are realized.