This is an interactive chart of unemployment rates by state, going back to 1976. Check the boxes next to the states you want to compare. Then you may also choose a baseline, and the unemployment rates of the other states will be shown as a percentage of the baseline state. That is if Wyoming is your baseline, you can see that in 1977 Arizona reached a jobless rate of nearly 4 times that of Wyoming (400%). This can give unexpected insight into regional, seasonal, and historic factors.
Jobless can either be used below or downloaded as a standalone app -- either way requires that you have Java 6 installed on your computer. The program has the ability to fetch updated data from data.gov (data.bls.gov) but there's no UI or button to trigger this yet -- the chart you see is based on cached data.
by Chouser, 2009