By BEN LEUBSDORF | Feb 26, 2016 | WSJ
The recession is over, but it’s certainly not forgotten across most of the U.S.: Unemployment last year remained elevated compared with 2007 levels in more than two-thirds of the states.
The Labor Department reported Friday that average annual jobless rates fell in 2015 from the prior year in 47 states plus the District of Columbia. Unemployment was unchanged in North Dakota and rose slightly in West Virginia and Wyoming. In 2014, unemployment fell in every state and D.C. for the first time since 1984.
Even so, the average annual unemployment rates in 36 states plus D.C. in 2015 were higher than the average unemployment rate for those states in 2007. The recession began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.
Unemployment rates in just 14 states had returned to or fallen below their 2007 averages in 2015: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri,Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont and Wisconsin.
The job market’s recovery remains incomplete at the national level, too. The U.S. unemployment rate in January was 4.9%, the lowest level since February 2008—but still up from the recession-eve unemployment rate of 4.7% in November 2007. And to be sure, the unemployment rate doesn’t provide a complete picture of an economy’s health. In some cases, a falling jobless rate can reflect unemployed workers moving away or otherwise leaving the labor force rather than finding jobs.
Waiting for Full Recovery
|District of Columbia||5.50%||6.90%||No|