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2.7%  Q1 GDP    4.57%  avg. 30-year mortgage     9.5%  Unemployment

Nine States at or Near Historic Highs on Unemployment

Nine states are at or near their historic highs for unemployment, according to June numbers out from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As a guide, remember the official U.S. unemployment figure is 9.5 percent. The states are:

-- California, at 11.6 percent.
-- Delaware, at 8.4 percent.
-- Florida, at 10.6 percent.
-- Georgia, at 10.1 percent.
-- Nevada, at 12 percent.
-- North Carolina, at 11 percent. (Historic high is 11.1 percent.)
-- Oregon, at 12.2 percent.
-- Rhode Island, at 12.4 percent.
-- South Carolina, at 12.1 percent.

Some analysis:

-- California's employment figure is heavily influenced by seasonal employment (agriculture). Also, the state is among the leaders in foreclosures and faces a massive budget crisis.

-- Florida is another foreclosure state, as is Nevada.

-- Oregon's high unemployment rate remains a puzzle even to Oregonians, as we blogged about here. It appears to be a unique combination of a number of factors, is the best guess.

-- Georgia is getting hammered by job losses in the manufacturing sector. Unemployment in Atlanta stands at 10.7 percent.

-- The Carolinas, like much of the South, overbuilt during the housing bubble and are now paying the price.

-- Casino layoffs and dog-track woes are killing Rhode Island. No kidding.

-- In Delaware, the construction crash is fueling unemployment.

As bad is it is in some states, joblessness is nowhere near its historic highs. For instance:

-- Unemployment in auto-industry-dependent Michigan leads the nation at 15.2 percent. But that's still not the state's all-time high of 16.9 percent, attained in November 1982, as the recession, the gas crisis and the cheaper, better foreign imports really took their toll on Detroit.

-- Unemployment in The Ticker's home state of West Virginia stands at 9.2 percent. That hurts, because it was as recent as January 2008 that the state hit its historic unemployment low of 4.1 percent.

But consider this: The Mountain State holds the national record (yay!) for all-time highest state unemployment since 1976. It came in March of 1983, when joblessness in West Virginia hit a staggering 18.2 percent. That's almost Great Depression level.

What happened?

In March 1983, the national unemployment rate was 10.3 percent, as the U.S. began pulling out of 1970s stagflation and an early-'80s recession. But West Virginia was a one-industry state. And when the recession reduced demand for coal, it put a lot of Mountaineers out of work.

And in Wyoming, unemployment stands at a recession-defying 5.9 percent. But that looks like a raging depression compared to the state's all-time low unemployment rate, achieved in February 1979: 1.9 percent. In a state with so few people, I'm surprised the BLS report didn't name all the unemployed in that month.

(Hat tip to RealNetworks' Rob Glaser for pointing out these data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Facebook today.)

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  August 5, 2009; 2:47 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: RealNetworks, Rob Glaser, unemployment  
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