Five states hit new lows in unemployment during September, including a couple that could be pivotal in the 2020 presidential election.
As the national jobless level fell to 3.5%, a 50-year low, Alabama (3%), California (4%), Illinois (3.9%), New Jersey (3.1%) and South Carolina (2.9%) set all-time bottoms in data that goes back to 1976, according to the latest Labor Department count released Friday.
Those drops came amid big year-over-year plunges of 0.8 percentage point for Alabama, Colorado and New Jersey. South Carolina had the largest month-over-month decline at 0.3 percentage point.
Of those states, California, Illinois, New Jersey and Colorado all swung against President Donald Trump in the 2016 race against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Those areas could come into play during a contest next year in which the incumbent will play the strong economy against a looming impeachment from the House of Representatives.
A study released earlier this week by Moody’s Analytics forecast an easy Trump win should economic conditions remain relatively unchanged. Opinion polls, though, have him trailing the current Democratic front-runners in respective head-to-head matchups.
The national unemployment has fallen only marginally over the past 12 months, from 3.7% to the current level that is the lowest since December 1969.
Payrolls increased significantly in three states during September, rising 8,200 in Kentucky, 4,600 in Idaho and 4,500 in Hawaii. Employment fell in only two states — Virginia (-14,700) and New Hampshire (-3,500).
For the 12-month period, California experienced the largest payroll gains at 320,000 followed by Texas (300,000) and perennial swing state Florida (224,700). No states reported payroll losses.
The lowest unemployment rate in the country belongs to Vermont at 2.2%, while Alaska is the highest with 6.2%.