across the united states, unemployment is at an all time low
According to recent U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics data, the job market in much of the country is as strong as it has ever been, and Black women, young people, and people with disabilities are among those benefiting.
Twenty states had unemployment rates of less than 3% in April, with South Dakota leading the way at 1.9%, followed by Nebraska at 2%, and New Hampshire and North Dakota at 2.1%. The overall national rate was 3.4%. According to BLS data released on Friday, other states with unemployment rates that have not been seen since the BLS began recording them in 1976 include Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Montana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Wisconsin set new low-unemployment and job-creation records in April. The state’s unemployment rate fell to 2.4%, and Wisconsin added more than 3 million jobs in April, up 51,500 from a year ago and 9,600 from the previous month.
Major metropolitan areas and developing metropolitan areas in the South have benefited from recent labor market changes, according to Mark Vitner, chief economist at Piedmont Crescent Capital in Charlotte, North Carolina.
According to him, the labor market in Florida is expanding rapidly in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville.
“… Huntsville, Alabama, is one of the fastest growing markets and a major aerospace and defense tech market.” “There has been a significant influx of investment from California into Huntsville, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, has seen an influx of investment in the automotive industry,” he said. “The Port of Savannah has been the country’s fastest growing port.” It has simply fueled enormous growth in the Savannah industrial market and, more broadly, in south Georgia. These markets have low unemployment rates and very strong job growth, which is precisely what you want to see.”
Vitner added that rural areas in low-unemployment states may have a different story to tell.
“States with a larger rural population tend to have lower labor force participation, and given the stronger overall job growth, that results in some very low unemployment rates without particularly strong nonfarm employment,” explained Vitner.
To be sure, the number of people out of work has increased in some states. Ten states had rates that were 4% or higher than the national average. Nevada, which had the country’s highest unemployment rate in 2020, has seen job gains but still had the highest rate in April, at 5.4%. States such as Washington and California, which have seen large layoffs among tech companies, have also seen their job markets deteriorate slightly.
However, the recovery has also helped workers who were previously marginalized during difficult economic times. According to Bureau of Labour Statistics data on worker demographics and unemployment rates for April, employment among Black women reached a 22-year high. Women’s labor-force participation is also increasing. It rose by 0.6 percentage points in the previous year.
According to an analysis by Betsey Stevenson, professor of economics, and Benny Docter, a senior policy analyst at the University of Michigan, women of all ages and education levels have seen the greatest increase in labor force participation, with 2.2% and 2.1% increases over the same period.
While the unemployment rate for people with disabilities remains high in comparison to the overall unemployment rate, it has dropped to 6.3% from 8.3% a year ago. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the unemployment rate for people aged 16 to 24, who are already benefiting from pre-pandemic labor market conditions, reached a 70-year low of 7.5% in March.
In April, unemployment in United States fell even lower for that age group, to 6.5%
The South and Midwest see significant increases. People with disabilities, young people, and Black women are among the beneficiaries.
“What happens when the economy is strong is that you can bring marginalized groups of workers off the sidelines because employers are more open to different folks essentially,” Katherine Gallagher Robbins, a senior fellow at the National Partnership for Women & Families, explained. “As a result of this strong labor market, you’re seeing low unemployment rates for Black workers, particularly Black women and disabled workers.” The rates for disabled workers have been extremely high, both in terms of unemployment and participation, when compared to previous years.”
Gallagher Robbins added that Gen Z workers entered a very strong labor market, which bodes well for them but also means they have more to lose if the economy falters soon.
“They may be in a position to set themselves up for lifelong higher earnings, but they will be among the first to go.” “They tend to work in industries with higher churn,” she explained, citing retail and hospitality as examples.
Many industries are also experiencing rapid job growth right now, according to Docter, with education and health care seeing the most growth.
“Private sector education and health services had been the strongest job grower between the last recession and 2020, and it got knocked pretty far off course in an unusual way.” Since then, we’ve seen steady, awe-inspiring growth in those areas most months, and I expect that to continue for a while,” he said. “… It’s nowhere near its pre-pandemic trajectory, so there would be over 700,000 more jobs in that industry today. Looking at the numbers this month, there’s a lot of room for expansion. There’s nothing to suggest that those industries will collapse anytime soon.”
According to Gallagher Robbins, the labor market is still leaning towards greater worker power, which has been beneficial to labor organizers. Americans’ support for labor unions has risen from 64% before the pandemic to 71% in 2022.
“Worker bargaining is on the rise, and not by chance.” “Not everything has been successful, but I believe the organizing efforts that are coming to the fore now are no coincidence,” she said. “That is also something that is interacting and intersecting with the current economy, and I believe that if we shift back to a place where workers have less bargaining power, that will impact the ability to organize.”
According to Vitner, the retirement of Baby Boomers provides many workers with more labor power than they had previously.
“Today, workers have more bargaining power” One factor working in their favor is the increasing number of Baby Boomers leaving the workforce. As a result, the labor market is extremely tight, and certain industries face even greater challenges because their workforce is older,” he explained. “… Younger workers have a little more bargaining power, but they have a better outlook.” They’re entering the workforce at a time when there will be opportunities for rapid advancement.”
Many workers have found it more difficult to enjoy these benefits due to inflation, but this may change. Although inflation remains far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target, wages are now outpacing inflation, with a 6.1% increase in median weekly earnings in January, February, and March compared to the previous year. Consumer prices increased by 5.8% during the same period. In April, average hourly earnings increased by 4.4% over the previous year.