Payrolls rose in 34 states in July and the jobless rate fell in 24 as the U.S. labor market continued its return to health.
California led the nation with an 80,700 increase in employment, followed by a 31,400 advance in Texas, figures from the Labor Department showed Friday in Washington.
The job market has posted steady growth this year, with payrolls clocking enough gains to keep taking in slack created by the most severe recession in the post-World War II era. Sustained improvement will probably lead to a pickup in wage growth, giving consumers the means to boost spending and help power economic growth.
Wyoming showed the biggest percentage gain in employment with a 0.9 percent increase, followed by Oklahoma and Rhode Island at 0.7 percent. States where payrolls declined included New Jersey and North Dakota.
The unemployment rate dropped the most in Connecticut and Hawaii, where it fell by 0.3 percentage point each. Oregon and Arizona showed statistically significant increases in joblessness.
Nebraska had the lowest jobless rate in the U.S. at 2.7 percent in July. West Virginia had the highest at 7.5 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 showed payrolls across the U.S. climbed by 215,000 in July following a 231,000 gain the month before. The unemployment rate held at a seven-year low of 5.3 percent.
Federal Reserve officials have indicated that the labor market’s steady improvement is carrying them closer to their first interest-rate increase since 2006, though persistently low inflation is still a concern. Participants in the July 28-29 Federal Open Market Committee meeting said economic conditions “were approaching that point” where the economy could sustain a slight increase in borrowing costs, according to minutes of the meeting released in Washington on Wednesday.