Nevada No Longer Tops in Unemployment

Construction work is on the rise in Las Vegas. (AP)

California and Rhode Island have bumped Nevada from the top jobless spot in the nation with the highest unemployment rates among the states at 9.8 percent each. Nevada dipped to 9.7 percent.

Once again, North Dakota registered the lowest jobless rate, 3.3 percent in January, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Monday.  

Nevada had been on track to have the country's highest unemployment for three straight years, but in its latest report, BLS revised some of its earlier projections. BLS had earlier reported that Nevada had a 10.2 percent unemployment rate in December 2012, but that figure was tweaked to 9.8 percent.

With the BLS revisions, December 2012 marked the first time since 2008 that all 50 states had single-digit unemployment rates.

Overall, Nevada's unemployment rate has been on a downward path since early 2011 and fell into single digits in December, Bill Anderson, chief economist for Nevada's Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said in a statement. 

“Some of the industries which were hardest-hit by the recession, like construction and manufacturing, appear to have stabilized and are on the path to improvement,” Gov. Brian Sandoval said in the same statement.

In total, 24 states reported jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 7.9 percent, BLS said, and 17 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.

Nine states, however, had measurably higher rates. In addition to California, Rhode Island and Nevada, the other states with rates higher than the national average are: New Jersey (9.5 percent), North Carolina (9.5), Mississippi (9.3), Illinois (9.0), Michigan (8.9) and Georgia (8.7)

Nevada registered the largest jobless rate decrease over the year since January 2012 (-2.3 percentage points), BLS said. Seven other states reported smaller but also statistically significant decreases over the year: Florida (-1.4 percentage points), Idaho (-1.3 points), California (-1.2 points), Hawaii (-1.1 points), Colorado and Washington (-1.0 point each), and Texas (-0.9 point).

Florida's January unemployment rate of 7.8 percent is the state's lowest unemployment rate since November 2008, and falls below the national average unemployment rate for the first time since January 2008, the state said.

As Stateline reported in a three-part series, states hit hardest by the collapse of the housing market, such as Florida and Nevada, are slowly bouncing back.

Looking specifically at construction, employment expanded in two-thirds of all states in January as the industry showed signs of emerging from a six-year slump, according to an analysis by the Associated General Contractors of America of the latest BLS figures.

From January 2012 to January 2013, 24 states and the District of Columbia added construction jobs, 25 states shed workers and one—Wisconsin—had no change.  Texas added the most new construction jobs over the past 12 months, with 28,500 jobs or 5.0 percent, followed by California (17,600 jobs, 3.0 percent) and Washington. Among states losing construction jobs during the past year, Illinois lost the most jobs (-9,800 jobs, -5.0 percent); followed by Virginia (-7,500 jobs, -4.2 percent); Ohio (-5,200 jobs, -2.8 percent) and Arkansas.