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New unemployment claims fall to 52-year low: Here are the best and worst states for jobs

The number of Americans applying for first-time jobless claims reached the lowest level since November 1969, with the number of filings dropping to 199,000.

Improvements in the labor market have been broad-based, with the weekly rate of those rendered newly unemployed falling precipitously across the country since the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

As usual, the Labor Department's latest weekly report included a breakdown of the states and territories with the highest and lowest insured unemployment rates, or the ratio of people claiming jobless benefits divided by the overall size of the labor force. For a number of states, this key labor market metric improved to its best level in two years, showing an even smaller proportion of their populations were claiming jobless benefits than before the coronavirus outbreak.

"I don't even think you can call it an economic recovery anymore," Chris Rupkey, chief economist for FWDBONDS, told Yahoo Finance Live. "Remember the best economy in 50 years late in 2019? Well, we're way, way, way above that right now. I don’t even think you can call this a reopening of the economy after the pandemic — we’re miles and miles ahead of the fourth quarter of 2019.”

South Dakota was the state with the lowest insured unemployment rate. As of the week ended Nov. 6, the state's rate was at 0.2% on a seasonally unadjusted basis. The last time this figure was below that level was in October 2019.

The national average insured unemployment rate was at 1.3% for the same week, or the lowest since December 2019. At its worst pandemic-era point in May 2020, during widespread lockdowns and layoffs, the insured unemployment rate peaked at 15.9% nationally.

Other states also posted insured unemployment rates well below the national average. Alabama's insured unemployment rate for the week ended Nov. 6...

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