Economic Indicators | Jobs and Unemployment

Treading water: Some states risk going under

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Today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics release of state-level employment and unemployment data shows that June employment trends continued the troubling trends seen in the May data. The “treading water” metaphor applied to the overall national trends is also appropriate at the state level, though some states show signs of dipping below the water line in recent months. The number of states experiencing job loss in the preceding three-month period (March 2012 to June 2012) has increased to 19 (plus the District of Columbia), up from 16 in May.

MORE: Graphs and data from the latest employment and unemployment numbers on EPI’s State of Working America

The number of states with unemployment rates greater than 10.0 percent remains at three—Nevada, Rhode Island and California—while an additional five states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates between 9.0 percent and 9.9 percent.

Michigan continues to impress, with its 8.6 percent unemployment rate just 0.4 percentage points greater than the national average. After spending much of the recession with the highest unemployment rate, Michigan has now fallen to 12th overall (or 13th if including the District of Columbia). Measures taken to save the auto sector have helped to stabilize the region while rescuing the state of Michigan.

The New York Times recently published an editorial, “The Road to More Jobs,” emphasizing that additional state and local fiscal relief from the federal government would have significantly improved the employment crisis throughout the nation. Their position was derived from recent analysis by EPI economists Heidi Shierholz and Josh Bivens, in which they determine that, along with the loss of public-sector jobs (and failure to increase the size of the public sector to keep up with population growth), there has also been a significant resulting private-sector loss of approximately 751,000 jobs. National and state elected officials need to work together to reverse this destructive tide.

See more work by Doug Hall