Economic Snapshot | Jobs and Unemployment

Interactive map: Unemployment then and now

While all 50 states lost jobs in the Great Recession, Nevada, Florida and California suffered particularly steep losses that have resulted in significantly higher unemployment rates today than at start of the recession three years ago. The Interactive Map shows the latest state unemployment data for December 2010, the third anniversary of the start of the Great Recession, along with the change in the unemployment rate over that period. Nevada’s unemployment rate has risen 9.3 percentage points, to a current 14.5%, the highest in the nation. Florida’s has risen 7.3 percentage points to a current rate of 12.0%, and California’s has risen 6.7 percentage points to 12.5%. Nationwide, the unemployment rate was 5.0 in December 2007, peaked at 10.1% in October of 2009 and stood at 9.4% in December 2010. (New unemployment data for the month of January will be released on Friday).

Click on any state to see current unemployment rate and the increase since the start of the recession, below.

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Although the recession officially ended in June 2009, all states have higher rates of unemployment today than when the downturn began. Ten states today have unemployment rates of 10% or higher, and 24 states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates of 9% or higher. States with comparatively small rises in unemployment include Alaska, whose unemployment rate is up 1.9 percentage points since the start of the recession; New Hampshire, with a 2.1 percentage point rise; and Minnesota, up 2.3 percentage points. It is important to note that the states with the highest rates of unemployment are not always the ones that have seen the largest jump. Michigan’s unemployment rate of 11.7%, for example, is one of the nation’s highest, but since it started the recession with a comparatively high rate of 7.1%, it has not seen the most dramatic change.

A new paper, The Great Recession’s Long Tail, by Policy Analyst Rebecca Thiess, takes a more detailed look at the job market on the third anniversary of the start of the Great Recession.

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<p>For several states, the loss of jobs has been staggering. Nevada has lost 14.2% of its jobs since December 2007, and Arizona has lost 10.3%. The percentage of jobs lost is 10% in Michigan, 9.4% in Florida, 9% in California, 8.3% in Oregon and 8.1% in Georgia. Rates of job loss approaching or exceeding 10% in many of the country&rsquo;s most populous states help to explain the difficulty those without jobs face finding new work. Importantly, these percentages reflect total jobs lost&nbsp;but do not include the jobs that should have been created over the past three years just to keep up with population growth. The country as a whole has lost 7.8 million, or 5.6% of its total jobs since the start of the recession. Because it should have created around 100,000 jobs every month just to keep up with population growth, there is a nationwide shortage of more than 11 million jobs today.</p>
<p>These data on rates of job loss by state are from EPI&rsquo;s <a href=””>EconomyTrack</a> site. The site offers additional state data along with tools to compare the current downturn to past recessions, which also helps illustrate the unusual severity of the current jobs crisis.</p>

See related work on Wages, Incomes, and Wealth

See more work by Andrea Orr