Employment Gains Extended From Vermont to Hawaii in November

Payrolls rose in 37 states in November from Vermont to Hawaii and the unemployment rate fell in 41 amid accelerating improvement in the U.S. labor market.

California led the nation with a 90,100 increase in employment, followed by a 41,900 advance in Florida, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington.

Payroll gains are shoring up consumer confidence and raising overall income levels, giving households the inclination and the means to spend. While the pace of hiring continues to vary geographically and by industry, gradually shrinking labor-market slack should help boost economic growth and provide a much-needed lift to wages.

“Businesses have been running with extremely tight workforce levels, and as demand has been improving consistently, they’re finding they need to hire just to keep up with new orders coming in the door,” said Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial Inc. in Detroit. “Over time most states will see continued recovery.”

Vermont showed the biggest percentage gain in employment with a 1.2 percent increase, followed by Hawaii at 0.9 percent. States where payrolls decreased included West Virginia and Mississippi.

The unemployment rate dropped the most in North Carolina, where joblessness fell 0.5 percentage point to 5.8 percent, the lowest since May 2008. No states showed statistically significant increases in unemployment.

Least Joblessness

North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in the U.S. at 2.7 percent in November. Mississippi had the highest at 7.3 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.

Today’s data come after the national report earlier this month showed payrolls across the U.S. added 321,000 workers in November after a 243,000 gain in October that was bigger than previously estimated. The unemployment rate held at 5.8 percent, matching the lowest since July 2008.

Federal Reserve policy makers will be using such economic data as they deliberate the timing of their first interest-rate increase since 2006. The labor market “improved further,” the Federal Open Market Committee said in a Dec. 17 statement.

“Underutilization of labor resources continues to diminish,” it said, dropping the word “gradually” used in its previous statement. Policy makers will be “patient in beginning to normalize the stance of monetary policy,” according to the committee’s statement, replacing a pledge to keep borrowing costs near zero for a “considerable time.”

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