Payrolls dropped in 31 states in March, led by a slump in energy producers such as Texas and Oklahoma. The unemployment rate fell in 23.
Payrolls in Texas decreased by 25,400, its first decline since September 2010 and the biggest since August 2009, figures from the Labor Department showed Tuesday in Washington. Oklahoma followed with 12,900 fewer jobs and employment in Pennsylvania fell by 12,700.
The plunge in fuel prices that began in the middle of 2014 has caused oil drillers and miners to cut workforces, prompting reductions among industries in the region. Rough winter weather at the start of the month could have led to job losses in other parts of the country.
“We’re seeing pockets that have slowed because of lower oil prices and the stronger dollar,” Mark Vitner, a senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities in Charlotte, North Carolina, said before the report. States such as California and Florida are “as strong as ever,” he said.
The number of states showing a drop in employment last month was the highest since September 2010. The decrease in payrolls in Oklahoma was its worst performance since April 2009. Pennsylvania, which is the second-largest producer of natural gas in the United States, had its biggest decline in almost three years.
The setbacks weren’t limited to major energy producers, with states such as Georgia, Maryland and Missouri also showing a decrease in payrolls.
Among the 18 states showing gains, California led the pack with a 39,800 increase in employment and Florida followed with a 30,600 advance.
Oregon and Washington posted the biggest statistically significant drops in joblessness last month, each with a 0.4 percentage point decline. West Virginia had the largest increase, jumping 0.5 point.
State and local employment data are derived independently from the national statistics, which are typically released on the first Friday of every month. The state figures are subject to larger sampling errors because they come from smaller surveys, thus making the national figures more reliable, according to the government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Compiling the state figures showed a 29,000 decline in employment nationwide.
The national report, released on April 3, showed payrolls climbed by 126,000 workers in March, following a 264,000 gain the prior month. The U.S. jobless rate held at 5.5 percent, the lowest level since May 2008, and worker earnings improved.
The national report showed Kansas lost 2,400 jobs between February and March.
In the nationwide tally, job cuts last month spanned goods producers including factories, construction firms and the industries that support oil and gas well drilling, while manufacturing payrolls fell for the first time since July 2013.