Payrolls rose in 33 states in June and the U.S. unemployment rate fell in 22, adding to signs the labor market was making progress in the world’s largest economy.
Florida led the nation with a 37,400 increase in payrolls, followed by California with 24,200 more jobs, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. South Carolina posted the biggest 12-month decline in the jobless rate -- to 5.3 percent from 7.8 percent.
Advances in hiring across a broad swathe of the country help lift consumer confidence and spur household spending, which accounts for almost 70 percent of the economy. Growth is poised to accelerate in the second half of 2014 after payroll gains exceeded 200,000 in June for the fifth straight month and the jobless rate fell to an almost six-year low of 6.1 percent.
“We can’t keep getting numbers like these and not admit that the labor market has healed,” said Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York. “States with higher unemployment are seeing steep declines. Big-number declines equal big progress on putting America back to work.”
Other states with sizeable declines in the jobless rate compared with June 2013 included Nevada, where unemployment fell to 7.7 percent from 10 percent. The rate decreased in Illinois by 2.1 percentage points from a year earlier, and by 1.9 percentage points each in Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Carolina.
Illinois was among states with the biggest monthly decrease in unemployment as the rate fell to 7.1 percent in June from 7.5 percent in May. Joblessness in Colorado, Rhode Island and Washington declined by 0.3 percentage point.
The drop in unemployment in Rhode Island meant it was no longer the lone state with the nation’s highest jobless rate. That distinction is now shared with Mississippi as both states have jobless rates of 7.9 percent.
North Dakota continued to have the lowest unemployment in the nation, at 2.7 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.
In today’s report, other states showing gains in employment included New York, which showed a 22,500 increase.
Georgia, West Virginia and Alaska showed the biggest declines in employment last month.
The improvement in the job market is among reasons Federal Reserve officials are trimming monthly asset purchases and plan to wind down the stimulus program by the end of the year. They have also indicated they’ll keep the benchmark interest rate close to zero for a considerable time.
“While we’re making progress in the labor market, we haven’t achieved our goal,” Fed Chair Janet Yellen told lawmakers earlier this week. Until the economy overcomes “substantial headwinds,” the Fed should pursue “an accommodative monetary policy,” she said.
The break-out for state jobs released today is in sync with Labor Department data on July 3 that showed employers added 288,000 jobs in June, lifting the average monthly advance so far in 2014 to almost 231,000. If that pace is sustained, job gains this year would be the best since 1999.
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