The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the nation’s employment figures for July today.

In July, 13.2% of Americans were out of work – either collecting unemployment benefits or ineligible for them (but “who currently want a job”). That’s about 1 out of every 7 or 8 people. Yikes.

The good news: That’s down from June, where unemployment was 13.3%. Yes, it’s a small drop, but it’s the first drop in a lonnng time. Beginning of the end? End of the beginning?

And Virginia? The BLS doesn’t release state data for a couple of weeks, but Virginia has ranked about 14th or 15th in the nation (that is, only 13 or 14 states have lower unemployment rates).

In June, Virginia’s unemployment rate was 10.98%, so — assuming we track the nation — the July rate will probably be about 10.8%.

mstrtcr1 The rankings (and the BLS even gives a map — click to enlarge it):

NORTH DAKOTA (lowest unemployment rate)
NEBRASKA
SOUTH DAKOTA
UTAH
WYOMING
IOWA
OKLAHOMA
MONTANA
LOUISIANA / NEW HAMPSHIRE / NEW MEXICO (tie)
KANSAS
VERMONT
VIRGINIA /ARKANSAS (tie)
MARYLAND

OREGON
RHODE ISLAND
MICHIGAN (highest unemployment rate)

So, while the blessings may seem to be limited, we should count them where we can.

Note on the numbers: For reasons I cannot fathom, the BLS — and too many newspapers — report unemployment rates that don’t take into account people who want a job but can’t collect unemployment benefits. That’s the “9.4%” you’ll see on the nightly news.

But when you do the basic math — labor force and the people who want to work but can’t find a job — you find that the real rate is 13.2%.

(And that doesn’t take into account people who want to work full-time but can only find part-time work.)