Visualization: Employment in the states

Monthly employment in the states by major industry category.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, part of the United States Department of Labor, gathers data about people and jobs. I’ve gathered some of its data on monthly employment levels in the states and present it in an interactive visualization.

The data in this visualization is from the Current Employment Statistics (CES) program. BLS describes it as “a monthly survey conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is a federal and state cooperative program that provides employment, hours, and earnings estimates for states and metropolitan areas based on payroll records of business establishments.” 1

Some notes on this data:

  • The timing of the data is a pay period that includes the twelfth of the month. Employees who receive pay during that period are counted.
  • Employees are geographically classified by their workplaces, not their residences. Someone living in Overland Park, Kansas who works in downtown Kansas City, Missouri is counted as a Missouri job.
  • This program counts jobs, not people. A person with two jobs is counted once for each job. BLS has other programs that count people. 2
  • The numbers are estimates produced from a sample of business firms and subject to sampling variability. There may also be nonsampling errors.
  • The numbers are revised annually as more data becomes available.
  • Some data is available adjusted for seasonality.
  • The figures are presented as thousands of employees, to one decimal place.

The data in this visualization is seasonally adjusted. It starts in 1990, although some data is not available for some states for all time periods. For each state, it holds employment numbers for these categories:

  • Total Nonfarm
  • Total Private
  • Government
  • Federal Government
  • State Government
  • Local Government

When government officials or news sources report on the number of jobs created (or lost) in a month, the figure is almost always from this BLS program using the total nonfarm category.

The visualization has a table of figures and several charts that show the relative growth of jobs over time. For most charts, you may select the time span, industry category, and states.

Example from the visualization. Click for larger.

One chart, titled “Single State Comparison,” lets you select one state. It then plots that state as one line, and all other states as another line.

Example from the visualization. Click for larger.

Click here to access the visualization.

For more visualizations, click here.


  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. State & Area Current Employment Statistics Overview. Available at
  2. See Labor Force Statistics from the Current Population Survey at
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