4. New Hampshire (unemployment down 1.1 percent)
The Granite State is another example where an improved jobless rate stems partly from people exiting the labor force. But New Hampshire has benefited as New England has stayed on a more even economic keel than some other areas, notably the far West. (Rhode Island and Vermont have also seen substantial declines in unemployment this year.)
The recession has prompted New Hampshire to cut several thousand jobs in local government, but the state has made up for it through larger gains in manufacturing, construction, and other sectors. A low-tax reputation, compared to nearby Massachusetts, has helped the state add high-tech and other service-sector jobs in recent years. But the Labor Department data don't show a big post-recession pickup in information technology.
New Hampshire currently has a 5.8 percent unemployment rate.