story by Shobhana Chandra
The jobless rate climbed in 44 U.S. states in July, showing last month’s increase in unemployment was broad based.
Alabama and Alaska registered the worst performance, with joblessness advancing by 0.5 percentage point in each, figures from the Labor Department showed today (Aug. 17). Payrolls grew in 31 states last month, led by California and Michigan.
Link here for Arkansas’ jobless data for July.
Across the nation, the unemployment rate rose to 8.3% in July, a five-month high, even as employment increased by the most since February. Faster hiring is needed to spur consumer spending, which accounts for about 70% of the economy, and to help reduce elevated joblessness that remains a concern for Federal Reserve policy makers.
Payrolls gains are “probably not enough to make really significant sort of progress on improving unemployment rates,” Jeremy Lawson, senior U.S. economist at BNP Paribas in New York, said before the report. “Firms are waiting on more clarity as to what general direction things are headed.”
Unemployment jumped to 8.3% in Alabama from 7.8% in June, and climbed to 7.7% in Alaska from 7.2%, today’s report showed. Nevada, where the rate rose to 12% from 11.6%, remained the state with the highest level of joblessness in the country. Rhode Island, at 10.8%, was second, followed by California at 10.7%.
North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, even as it rose to 3% from 2.9% the prior month.
Two states, Idaho and Rhode Island, showed a drop in their unemployment rates. Joblessness was unchanged in four states.
New Jersey’s jobless rate jumped to a 35-year high of 9.8% in July from 9.6% in June. The state lost 12,000 positions, including cuts in manufacturing, construction, and professional and business services, according to figures released by New Jersey officials.
Unemployment in New York rose to 9.1%, the highest since 1983, and payrolls dropped by 3,700 workers.
The figures reflect the cutbacks at financial firms, which are trimming jobs as revenue softens. Morgan Stanley has said its headcount will drop by about 700 in the second half, bringing total 2012 reductions to 4,000. Credit Suisse Group AG planned to eliminate 138 positions in New York starting this month. Deutsche Bank AG will cut about 1,900 jobs by year-end, mostly outside Germany.
Today’s report also showed employers in California added 25,200 workers to payrolls in July, and those in Michigan took on 21,800 more employees. Virginia was third, with a 21,300 gain. New Jersey and Missouri had the biggest decreases.
Employers nationwide added 163,000 jobs last month, more than the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg and following a revised 64,000 gain in June, Labor Department data showed on Aug. 3. The increase, driven by automakers and health- care providers, eased concern the three-year economic expansion is faltering.
Including the July gain, the U.S. has recovered 4 million of the 8.8 million jobs lost as a result of the 18-month recession that ended in June 2009.
At the same time, the jobless rate has exceeded 8% for 42 consecutive months, the longest stretch in the post-World War II era.
“Growth in employment has been slow in recent months, and the unemployment rate remains elevated,” Fed policy makers said in a statement on Aug. 1 after their meeting.