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New Jersey tied with Kentucky for the fifth highest unemployment rate in the nation (4.6%) for the month of May, according to a new state-by-state comparison of seasonally adjusted jobless data released Tuesday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The states with the lowest jobless rates were North Dakota and South Dakota, which both had a 2.0% unemployment rate, significantly below the national rate of 4.0%, the BLS said. In all, 35 states had unemployment rates that were below the national average for May. 

The District of Columbia had the nation’s highest unemployment rate (5.3%), followed by California (5.2%), and Nevada (5.1%). Illinois and Washington state had the fourth worst rate (4.9%) followed by Kentucky and New Jersey, which tied for the fifth highest rate. 

The May unemployment rates in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., can be found here. 

Although New Jersey’s 4.6% May unemployment rate is among the nation’s highest, it is also a slight improvement from the state’s April jobless rate of 4.7%. Nevertheless, New Jersey’s current unemployment rate is still higher than it was 12 months ago when the jobless rate was 4.2%. 

NJBIA has warned of the potential of future job losses with Gov. Phil Murphy’s proposed $1 billion tax on New Jersey’s largest employers. 

Additionally, the BLS said New Jersey was one of six states to experience “statistically significant” job gains last month. Buoyed by tourism, the Leisure and Hospitality sectors helped boost an overall employment increase of 16,500 New Jersey jobs during May. 

Other states experiencing significant monthly job gains included Idaho (0.9%), the District of Columbia (0.6%) and Ohio and Washington (both 0.4%). 

Viewed on a year-over-year basis, New Jersey has gained 80,200 jobs, a 1.9% increase, between May 2023 and May 2024, the BLS said. The states with the largest year-over-year percentage gains were Alaska (3.5%), South Carolina (3.5%) and Nevada (3%).