Payrolls Rose in 35 U.S. States in November, Led by Florida

  • West Virginia had the biggest percentage drop in unemployment
  • North Dakota's 2.7 percent jobless rate was lowest in U.S.

Payrolls climbed in 35 states and the unemployment rate fell in 27 as an improving economy continued to absorb slack in the U.S. labor market last month.

Florida led the nation with a 35,200 gain in employment in November, followed by a 16,300 increase in Texas, figures from the Labor Department showed Friday.

“The labor market is probably one of the most encouraging parts of the recovery,” said Kevin Cummins, an economist at RBS Securities Inc. in Stamford, Connecticut. “You’re always going to get times when certain areas of the country are stronger than others, but as a whole, the economy is very healthy.”

Vermont showed the biggest percentage gain in employment last month with a 0.9 percent advance, followed by Idaho at 0.7 percent. Nevada saw the biggest percentage decrease.

The biggest statistically significant decrease in the unemployment rate occurred in West Virginia, where joblessness fell by 0.4 percentage point to 6.5 percent in November. Illinois showed the largest increase in unemployment, with the rate climbing to 5.7 percent from 5.4 percent.

While Texas posted the second-biggest gain in total payrolls during the month, the collapse in crude prices has taken a toll on the oil industry’s employment in the Lone Star State. Other states have been just as unfortunate.

North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in the U.S. at 2.7 percent in November, while New Mexico had the highest at 6.8 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.

That report, released on Dec. 4, showed that the U.S. added 211,000 workers to payrolls in November, helped by gains in the construction, retail and health-care sectors, after an increase of 298,000 the month before. The jobless rate held at a more than seven-year low of 5 percent.

A solid labor market was one of the factors that encouraged the Federal Reserve this week to raise its benchmark interest rate for the first time in almost a decade. Wednesday’s quarter-point increase in borrowing costs was the culmination of a year-long effort by the Fed to prepare investors, consumers and companies for the end of an unprecedented era of ultra-easy money.

While there remain risks to growth from the global markets, “the U.S. economy has shown considerable strength,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen said in a press conference after the conclusion of the central bank’s meeting. “The labor market has clearly shown significant further improvement toward our objective of maximum employment.”

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