State level data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that most states have been experiencing the steady progress towards economic recovery that we have been seeing nationally. Over the three-month period from October 2011 to January 2012, every state except New York experienced a reduction in its unemployment rate (New York’s rate increased by 0.1 percentage point, reflecting growth in the labor force, despite gaining 64,500 jobs over this time frame). Over the course of a year (from January 2011 to January 2012), seven states experienced job growth exceeding 2.0 percent, while North Dakota experienced growth of 5.7 percent. Notably, five states (Alaska, Mississippi, Missouri, Rhode Island and Wisconsin) lost jobs over this period, led by Wisconsin’s loss of 12,500 jobs.
Despite these positive trends, there remain four states and the District of Columbia with unemployment rates at or above 10.0 percent (led by Nevada at 12.7 percent), while 11 states plus the District of Columbia have unemployment rates of 9.0 percent or higher.
States looking to further spur economic growth should invest more significantly in infrastructure, such as transportation networks, schools and broadband, while avoiding budget cuts that would impede economic recovery today and could compromise future economic prosperity.