Unemployment rates have dropped across the nation, with eight states hitting record-low levels last month.
Hawaii’s jobless rate of 2.1 percent in March was the lowest in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin had unemployment rates lower than 3 percent.
Fourteen states set new records for low unemployment in the last year, and eight of them hit their lowest unemployment rates in March, including California (4.3 percent), Hawaii (2.1 percent), Idaho (2.9 percent), Kentucky (4 percent), Maine (2.7 percent), Mississippi (4.5 percent), Oregon (4.1 percent), and Wisconsin (2.9 percent).
Meanwhile, Alaska had the highest jobless rate in March (7.3 percent), followed by New Mexico and the District of Columbia (5.6 percent each). Alaska continues to suffer from the crash in global commodity prices, which has resulted in high unemployment in the state since November 2013.
The record low jobless rates in 14 states show the strength of the U.S. economy, according to Mark Perry, a scholar at American Enterprise Institute and a professor of economics and finance at the University of Michigan.
“Assuming that the strong economic performance continues, as the record-low jobless rates in 14 states suggest it will, we are now officially experiencing the second-longest economic expansion in U.S. history,” he wrote in a blog post.
The two important economic milestones—the record jobless rate and the economic expansion—are good reasons “to celebrate the strength of the U.S. economy,” he noted.
A majority of U.S. states experienced job growth in March, in line with positive employment trends at the national level.
California led the nation in job growth, adding 321,000 jobs to the state’s economy in the last year and 1.57 million since the 2008 recession, according to the Economic Policy Institute. Texas and Florida trailed California in job gains.
The only state that saw job loss in the last year was North Dakota, with more than 5,000 losses. However, the state has enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate for the past decade, thanks to the shale oil boom that boosted the state’s economy.
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 103,000 in March, with strong hiring in the manufacturing, health care, and mining sectors.
Overall, the U.S. economy added nearly 2.3 million jobs in the last year.
Unemployment in March stayed at 4.1 percent, the lowest level in 17 years. African-American and Hispanic unemployment levels are also at their lowest levels in recorded history.
A further decline in the unemployment rate could potentially lead to higher wage growth.
Economists forecast that the overall unemployment rate could fall further this year. Goldman Sachs predicts that it could even break below 3 percent for the first time since 1953, according to a Bloomberg report.
U.S. job openings surged to record-high levels last year, as companies had trouble finding suitable workers due to a growing skills gap.
Wages are likely to continue to go higher in 2018, owing to the steadily rising demand for skilled workers and the tight labor market, according to economists.