The September unemployment rate for the U.S. is 6.1%. For individual states, the jobless rate ranges from a low of 3.2% in South Dakota (shortest bar above in graph), to a high of 8.8% in Rhode Island (tallest bar above in graph). Michigan at 8.7% in September is finally not the #1 state in the country for the first month in a long time. Some interesting facts:
1. By state (without adjusting for population), the mean (average) state unemployment rate is 5.63% and the median state unemployment rate is 5.6% (half of U.S. states have jobless rates below 5.6% and half are above 5.6%).
2. The average jobless rate is only 3.8% for the ten states with the lowest unemployment rates (SD, WY, NE, UT, ND, OK, NM, NH, IA and VA). 3. One of of every three states (17) have jobless rates below 5%.
4. If you take out California (7.7%) and Michigan (8.7%), the average state unemployment rate falls from 5.63% to 5.52% (without adjusting for population).
5. If you adjust for the size of California (12.19% of the U.S. population), the overall U.S. unemployment rate falls from 6.1% to 5.88% without California.
6. If you adjust for the size of California and Michigan (3.41% of the population), and take those two states out, the unemployment rate for the other 48 states (and D.C.) falls from 6.1% to 5.76%. Therefore, more than 1/3 of 1% (.34%) of the 6.1% national jobless rate can be explained by the high levels of unemployment in just two large states: CA and MI.
Bottom Line: There is probably a lot more variation in state economic conditions than most people realize. To hear the media reports, one would think that all 50 states are on the brink of falling into another Great Depression, when the reality is much different: one out of every three states (17) actually have jobless rates BELOW 5%.