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New Jersey’s 1.5 percentage point increase in its unemployment rate for the 12-month period that ended in December 2023 was the largest of any of the states that saw a year-over-year increase in their jobless rates, according to new federal data released this week. 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that during this 12-month period, 18 states plus the District of Columbia saw statistically significant jobless rate increases while 15 states saw decreases in their unemployment rates. The largest declines were in Maryland and Oregon (–1.1 percentage points in both states).  

Seventeen states ended 2023 with jobless rates that were not notably different from their unemployment rates in December 2022. 

Viewed on a monthly basis, the lowest unemployment rate during December was in Maryland and North Dakota (1.9% for both). The next lowest was in South Dakota (2%). In total, 16 states had unemployment rates that were below the nationwide average of 3.7% for December. 

Conversely, five states and the District of Columbia had monthly jobless rates in December that exceeded the 3.7% national average and 29 states had rates that were not appreciably different from the national average. The five states with the highest monthly rates were Nevada (5.4%), California and the District of Columbia (both 5.1%), and New Jersey and Illinois (both 4.8%).