Between February 2005 and February 2006, nonfarm payroll employment was up in 48 states and the District of Columbia, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics release. Employment rose by more than 3% in ten states, led by Nevada (+ 6.1%), Idaho (+5.3%), and Arizona (+5.2%).

Only two states – Louisiana and Michigan – experienced a decrease in nonfarm employment over the past year.

While the drop in Louisiana employment can be traced to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, it appears that we are seeing the beginning signs related to the downturn in the auto industry in Michigan. With recent layoffs by General Motors, Ford and Delphi, Detroit’s auto business – and the impact on the state’s economy – will likely be the focus of more scrutiny as time goes on.

Unemployment rates were down in 39 states and the District of Columbia compared to a year earlier, up in eight states, and remained the same in three states. The national unemployment rate dropped 0.6% over the year.