NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Unemployment rates increased in the majority of states throughout 2010, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in a further sign that the economic recovery has yet to reach the job market.
In the country’s first full year out of the recession, 31 states saw their average annual unemployment rate increase compared to 2009, while just 18 experienced year-over-year improvements and one state remained unchanged. On the whole, the unemployment rate for the U.S. was 9.6%, up from 9.3% the year before.
“The unemployment rate is certainly still high, but it often keeps going up after a recession ends,” said Ken LeVasseur, senior economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics. “We saw big year-over-year increases in unemployment in 2008 and in 2009. By comparison, the increase this year was relatively modest.”
Several of the states that experienced the biggest annual increases in unemployment were the same ones that had already been particularly battered during the recession years. Florida and California, which both had double digit unemployment throughout 2009, saw their unemployment rates continue to rise by more than 1 percentage point in 2010, and Nevada saw its unemployment go up by more than 2 percentage points, averaging 14.9% on the year.
As LaVasseur notes, these three states also helped to drive down their surrounding regions, as the Mountain and Pacific regions experienced the steepest increases in unemployment for the year, with the South Atlantic region around Florida not far behind. Indeed, this coincides with previous reports speculating that the Sun Belt regions – the South and Southwest – would experience more long lasting hardships from the economic downturn, as these areas were particularly vulnerable to the housing market.
For some states though, the numbers in this report may be a bit deceptive.
“The downside of looking at unemployment rates over the course of the full calendar year is that it masks some of the improvements we’ve seen. When you look at the full year, the rates are higher, but a number of states are showing improvement in the monthly data,” LeVasseur said.