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Regional and state unemployment rates were little changed in December, which shows stability, although no real forward motion. Twenty-five states had unemployment rate decreases from November, 14 states had increases, and 11 states and the District of Columbia had no change, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Forty-two states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rate decreases from a year earlier, while eight states had increases.

The national jobless rate was unchanged from November at 5.0 percent and was 0.6 percentage point lower than in December 2014.

In December 2015, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 36 states and the District of Columbia, and decreased in 14 states. The largest over-the-month increases in employment occurred in California (+60,400), Texas (+24,900), and Florida (+21,900). The largest over-the-month decreases in employment occurred in Illinois (-16,300), Oklahoma (-5,100), and North Dakota (-4,000). The largest over-the-month percentage increase in employment occurred in Alaska (+0.8 percent), followed by Arkansas, South Carolina, and Tennessee (+0.7 percent each). The largest over-the-month percentage decline in employment occurred in North Dakota (-0.9 percent), followed by Vermont (-0.7 percent) and Wyoming (-0.6 percent). Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 43 states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 7 states. The largest over-the-year percentage increases occurred in Idaho (+4.4 percent), South Carolina (+3.3 percent), and Utah (+3.2 percent).

The largest over-the-year percentage decreases occurred in North Dakota (-4.0 percent), Wyoming (-2.2 percent), and West Virginia (-1.5 percent).

Regional Unemployment (Seasonally Adjusted)

In December, the Midwest had the lowest regional unemployment rate, 4.7 percent, while the West had the highest rate, 5.4 percent. Over the month, no region had a statistically significant unemployment rate change. Significant over-the-year rate decreases occurred in all four regions: the West (-1.0 percentage point), Northeast (-0.8 point), Midwest (-0.6 point), and South (-0.4 point).

Among the nine geographic divisions, the West North Central had the lowest unemployment rate, 3.8 percent in December. The East South Central had the highest rate, 5.9 percent. Over the month, no division had a statistically significant unemployment rate change. Six divisions had significant rate changes from a year earlier, all of which were declines. The largest of these decreases occurred in the Pacific (-1.3 percentage points).

State Unemployment (Seasonally Adjusted)

North Dakota had the lowest jobless rate in December, 2.7 percent, followed by Nebraska and South Dakota, 2.9 percent each. New Mexico had the highest rate, 6.7 percent. In total, 18 states had unemployment rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 5.0 percent, 9 states and the District of Columbia had measurably higher rates, and 23 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

In December, four states had statistically significant over-the-month unemployment rate declines, the largest of which occurred in Missouri and Oregon (-0.3 percentage point each). Six states had significant over-the-month rate increases, the largest of which was in Mississippi (+0.4 percentage point). The remaining 40 states and the District of Columbia had jobless rates that were not measurably different from those of a month earlier, though some had changes that were at least as large numerically as the significant changes.

Twenty-four states and the District of Columbia had statistically significant unemployment rate declines from December 2014, the largest of which occurred in Rhode Island (-1.7 percentage points). The only significant over-the-year rate increase was in New Mexico (+0.7 percentage point).

For more information, visit www.bls.gov.

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