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News from EPI Every state still feeling effects of Great Recession

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For Immediate Release: Friday, August 20, 2010
Contact:
Phoebe Silag or Karen Conner, news@epi.org 202-775-8810

The state-level jobs and unemployment report released today provides a detailed look at labor markets across the country. Although the Great Recession started more than two and a half years ago, every state is still feeling the effects, and many have yet to see signs of robust growth. Unemployment rates are higher in every state today than they were before the recession began, and there are still 11 states with double digit unemployment rates. Only two states (Alaska and North Dakota) and the District of Columbia have more jobs today than when the recession began. However, these small gains in states with small populations are vastly outweighed by the losses elsewhere, leaving the country as a whole 7.7 million jobs short of the pre-recession level.

There is wide variation in these state-level economic indicators. Nevada and Michigan have unemployment rates of 14.3% and 13.1%, respectively, while North Dakota and South Dakota have unemployment rates of 3.6% and 4.4%, respectively. Nevada and Arizona have lost more than 10% of their jobs in this recession, while Alaska, North Dakota, and the District of Columbia have gained jobs. This variation indicates the importance of policies that help areas that are most in need. As an example of such a policy, Senator Stabenow recently introduced a bill that would provide an unemployment insurance extension to states with very high unemployment rates. At the national level, there are five unemployed workers for every job opening, but this ratio is likely much higher in these high unemployment states. Workers are struggling to find jobs, and private businesses, concerned about the future, are not hiring. Providing aid to the unemployed not only helps those who need it the most, it also increases demand in the overall economy.

As states use up their Recovery Act funds and temporary hires for the Census are let go, we have seen the nation move from an encouraging recovery (318,000 new jobs per month between March and May), to one that is going nowhere, fast (176,000 jobs lost per month from June to July). Averaged over the past six months, job growth in many states is slower than population growth. And as states struggle to balance their budgets during this protracted slump, state and local employees are being laid off, further weakening demand in an already weak economy. Private businesses and 14.6 million unemployed workers are waiting to see if the government—federal, state, or local—is willing to act and get this country back on the road to recovery.

More state data are available on EPI’s interactive web site EconomyTrack.org

Unemployment Rate by State
July 2010 compared to start of recession, Dec. 2007

State                                     Dec 07         Jul 1

Alabama

  3.9%

9.7%

Alaska

  6.2%

7.7%

Arizona

  4.3%

9.6%

Arkansas

  5.0%

7.4%

California

  5.8%

12.3%

Colorado

  4.3%

8.0%

Connecticut

  4.9%

8.9%

Delaware

  3.8%

8.4%

District of Columbia

  5.5%

9.8%

Florida

  4.7%

11.5%

Georgia

  5.1%

9.9%

Hawaii

  3.0%

6.3%

Idaho

  3.5%

8.8%

Illinois

  5.5%

10.3%

Indiana

  4.6%

10.2%

Iowa

  3.9%

6.8%

Kansas

  4.0%

6.5%

Kentucky

  5.5%

9.9%

Louisiana

  3.8%

7.2%

Maine

  4.7%

8.1%

Maryland

  3.5%

7.1%

Massachusetts

  4.4%

9.0%

Michigan

  7.1%

13.1%

Minnesota

  4.7%

6.8%

Mississippi

  6.1%

10.8%

Missouri

  5.3%

9.2%

Montana

  3.9%

7.3%

Nebraska

  2.9%

4.7%

Nevada

  5.2%

14.3%

New Hampshire

  3.4%

5.8%

New Jersey

  4.5%

9.7%

New Mexico

  3.6%

8.2%

New York

  4.7%

8.2%

North Carolina

  4.9%

9.8%

North Dakota

  3.0%

3.6%

Ohio

  5.6%

10.3%

Oklahoma

  3.6%

6.9%

Oregon

  5.2%

10.6%

Pennsylvania

  4.5%

9.3%

Rhode Island

  6.0%

11.9%

South Carolina

  5.6%

10.8%

South Dakota

  2.8%

4.4%

Tennessee

  5.5%

9.8%

Texas

  4.4%

8.2%

Utah

  3.1%

7.2%

Vermont

  4.0%

6.0%

Virginia

  3.2%

7.0%

Washington

  4.6%

8.9%

West Virginia

  4.0%

8.6%

Wisconsin

  4.5%

7.8%

Wyoming

  2.8%

6.7%