Payrolls rose in 30 states in January and unemployment rates fell in 28, a sign the U.S. labor market was resilient in early 2016.
Florida led the advance with a 32,200 increase in payrolls, followed by Texas with 31,400 more jobs, figures from the Labor Department showed Monday in Washington.
Employers across the country are continuing to hire as the world’s largest economy picks up pace this quarter, helping to sustain household spending and cushion headwinds including weakness in the oil industry and a slowdown in overseas markets. Federal Reserve policy makers, meeting this week, have taken note of the progress on employment.
“The labor market should remain pretty solid,” Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James Financial Inc. in St. Petersburg, Florida, said before the report. “Businesses still need to hire. We’re still mopping up the slack.”
Vermont showed the biggest percentage gain in employment in January with a 0.9 percent advance, followed by Nevada with a 0.6 percent increase. The District of Columbia, which is included in the state report, also showed a 0.9 percent rise.
South Carolina posted the biggest percentage decrease, showing a 0.5 percent drop.
Ten states showed statistically significant decreases in the unemployment rate in January, with Oregon reporting the biggest decline of 0.4 percent point to 5.1 percent. The only statistically significant increase was in Wyoming, where joblessness climbed by 0.3 percentage point to 4.7 percent.
South Dakota tied North Dakota for the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, at 2.8 percent. Mississippi had the highest, at 6.7 percent.
Even with the lingering woes in the oil industry in Texas, the state’s jobless rate decreased to 4.5 percent in January from 4.6 percent in the previous month.
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.
The national report, released on March 4, showed the job market has stayed strong so far this year. U.S. payrolls climbed by 242,000 in February following a 172,000 rise in January. The jobless rate held at an eight-year low of 4.9 percent as people entered the labor force and found work. Average hourly earnings fell, the first monthly drop in more than a year.
The February state employment data will be published on March 25.