The national unemployment rate was 3.9 percent in December 2018. Iowa had the lowest unemployment rate of any state at 2.4 percent, followed by Hawaii and New Hampshire (both 2.5 percent). The December unemployment rate was at or below 3.0 percent in eight other states: Idaho, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin. In total, the December unemployment rate was at or below 4.0 percent in 35 states.
Alaska’s 6.3 percent unemployment rate was the highest of any state. The next highest unemployment rates were in the District of Columbia (5.5 percent), and West Virginia (5.1 percent).
The national unemployment rate fell 0.2 percentage points between December 2017 and December 2018. The unemployment rate fell the most over the year in New Mexico (-1.3 percentage points), followed by five states that each saw a 0.9 percentage point decline: Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. In total, the unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage points or more over the year in 21 states.
The unemployment rate increased the most over the year in Colorado (0.5 percentage points), Hawaii (0.4 percentage points), and Maine and Tennessee (both 0.3 percentage points). The unemployment rate also increased over the year in Alabama, Arizona, Indiana, Louisiana, and North Dakota.
Total national (public and private) nonfarm payroll employment increased 1.8 percent from December 2017 to December 2018. Among the states, the largest year-over-year increases were in Nevada (3.9 percent), Arizona (3.4 percent), Texas (3.2 percent), and Utah and Washington (both 3.1 percent). In total, 20 states saw total employment increase 2.0 percent or more.
Total nonfarm employment declined over the year in only Alaska and Vermont (both -0.1 percent).
Total national public-sector employment increased 0.3 percent from December 2017 to December 2018. Among the states, the largest year-over-year increases were in Nevada (3.4 percent), Illinois (3.0 percent), Utah (2.3 percent), and Idaho (2.2 percent). In total, public employment increased 1.0 percent or more in 16 states.
Public-sector employment declined over the year in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The largest declines were in Oregon (-3.8 percent), Virginia (-2.2 percent), and Connecticut (-1.6 percent). All other declines were less than 1.0 percent.