Payrolls increased in 30 states in November, and the unemployment rate dropped in 45, showing the job market improved across much of the U.S. even as superstorm Sandy represented a setback for the Northeast.
North Carolina led the nation with a 30,600 gain in payrolls, followed by Florida with 24,500 more jobs, figures from the Labor Department showed today in Washington. Employment dropped by 33,500 in New York and fell by 8,100 in New Jersey in the wake of storm.
Gains in jobs are helping to sustain consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy. At the same time, businesses are unlikely to accelerate hiring while they wait for an agreement among lawmakers to avert more than $600 billion in tax increases and spending cuts slated for 2013.
“Progress in the labor market is slow and steady,” Sam Coffin, an economist at UBS Securities LLC in Stamford, Connecticut, said before the report. “We’ve had some decent payroll growth. Once the fiscal cliff is resolved, there’s potential for faster hiring and income gains.”
The unemployment rate dropped the most in Louisiana, falling 0.8 percentage point to 5.8 percent in November. Nevada’s jobless rate showed the second-biggest decrease, falling to 10.8 percent last month from 11.5 in October. Nonetheless, Nevada remained the state with the highest rate in the country. Rhode Island was second, with a rate of 10.4 percent, followed by California at 9.8 percent.
North Dakota had the lowest unemployment in the nation, holding at 3.1 percent.
The Labor Department said it did not attempt to quantify the job-market damage from Sandy for the states in the affected area.
The storm left about 8 million homes and businesses without power for days after making landfall in New Jersey on Oct. 29. The 26 counties designated as major disaster areas after the storm had an average 1,301 labor force participants per square mile, about 30 times the average labor force density for the U.S. in 2011, according to the Labor Department.