Home / Economy / Articles / The September unemployment rate dropped nationwide. It rose in one state.

The nation added 194,000 jobs to payrolls in September as sectors slowly rebounded from the pandemic. Leisure and hospitality, a sector that did not add any jobs in August, led job growth in September, accounting for about 21.8% of new jobs added.

The unemployment rate decreased in 27 states, increased in one, and remained unchanged in 36 states including Washington, DC, according to monthly data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Nebraska and Utah reported September’s lowest unemployment rates, at 2.0% and 2.5% respectively.

California and Nevada both had unemployment rates of 7.5%, the highest in the nation. Both states employ the most people in the trade, transportation, and utilities sector. New York and New Jersey followed at 7.1%. New Mexico, Illinois, Connecticut, and Hawaii all reported rates above 6.5%.

Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell from 5.8% in August to 5.2%, the largest decrease of any state. Arizona had the second-largest decline by half a percentage point to a total of 5.7% in September. Connecticut, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Wyoming followed with drops of 0.4 percentage points each.

Massachusetts was the only state with an unemployment rate increase, rising 0.2 percentage points to 5.2% in September.

Ten states and Washington, DC have unemployment rates over 6%.

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Nonfarm payroll employment increased in 11 states, decreased in three, and went unchanged in 36, according to BLS data.

Nonfarm payroll employment decreased in Louisiana by 1.6% from August. Idaho and Vermont also reported drops in employment from last month, at 0.6% and 1% respectively. The largest percent increase in employment occurred in Florida, with a 1% increase. Oklahoma and Texas both increased statewide employment by 0.8%.

All states reported nonfarm payroll employment increases from September 2020 to September 2021. Hawaii led in job growth over the last year, almost doubling the growth of Nevada. Wyoming and Louisiana increased less than 1%.

The unemployment rate depends on labor force participation, meaning an increase or decrease in jobs does not necessarily lead to an increase or decrease in the unemployment rate. For example, if a job is lost in the leisure and hospitality sector, the number of unemployed people does not always go up by one. It could be the case that the person has transitioned to another sector or retired and left the labor force entirely. Hence how a state could have a drop in the number of employed people while incurring no changes to its unemployment rate.

Hawaii added almost 13% more jobs since September 2020.

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Pre-pandemic, Hawaii’s leisure and hospitality sector employed more people than any other sector statewide. As of September 2021, the sector ranked third, employing 95,500 people.

The government sector now employs the most Hawaiians, accounting for about 21.6% of total nonfarm employees.

The leisure and hospitality sector in Hawaii used to employ the most people. Now government leads job growth.

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See other indicators about the recovery from the pandemic at the COVID-19 Impact and Recovery Hub.