July's Employment Situation release from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that job opportunities were increasing across the country. More recently, the agency revealed its regional employment data, tracking the states in which most of those gains occurred. According to BLS data, just eight states had declining unemployment over the month, but 38 dropped their rates in the last year.
More jobs for Americans
Although reductions to unemployment rates were small in July, the rise in the actual number of jobs was more promising. Employment increased in 36 states and in Washington, D.C., over the month. Texas once again gained the largest number of jobs, adding 46,600 to its workforce. California and Nevada were the next top job creators, increasing employment by 27,700 and 17,900, respectively. By percentage, Montana grew the most, expanding 0.7 percent. Arizona, Kentucky, Missouri, New Mexico and Utah each increased employment 0.5 percent.
Throughout the year, the picture was different, and the U.S. overall saw largest increases in employment and substantial reductions to unemployment. Alaska was the only state to lose workers since July 2013, with every other state and Washington, D.C., gaining employees. North Dakota, which showed no significant employment change in the last month, added 4.4 percent to its workforce over the year, the most of any state. Nevada and Utah were close behind, gaining 3.8 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively.
Unemployment rates drop
Despite its over-the-month performance stagnating, North Dakota's 12-month job increases led it to have the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., at just 2.8 percent. Mississippi's 8 percent unemployment was the highest in the nation, one of just eight states – plus Washington, D.C. – that had rates above the national average. Most states had unemployment unchanged from June, but seven saw rising rates. Over the year, however, unemployment dropped in 29 states and Washington, D.C. Illinois' 2.4 percent decrease was the largest in the country.
Part-time jobs grow
However, the job market in the U.S. still has plenty of untapped potential for growth. According to Newsmax, 7.5 million Americans currently working part-time jobs are actually looking for full-time work but can't find it. The news source reported that this figure has grown 375,000 since February, when the number of these involuntary part-timers was at its lowest point since the recession. Although these positions contribute to higher national employment, economists have said that they represent a large underused portion of the workforce.