Since the economic downturn began in December 2007, the United States has lost over 600,000 jobs, and the national unemployment rate has risen to a five-year high of 6.1%. States most affected are concentrated largely in the Pacific West, Midwest, and South Atlantic regions, and are led by Michigan (8.9%), Rhode Island (8.5%), California (7.7%), and Mississippi (7.7%). This interactive map shows the unemployment rate of each state in August, accompanied by employment gains and losses incurred by each state since the economic downturn.
Interactive map: Unemployment rates by state, August 2008
Though 22 states increased net employment since December, job growth for the vast majority of those states has been grossly insufficient compared to that of the working-age population. Consequently, the percentage of people in the labor force actively—but unsuccessfully—looking for work has steadily gone up, even in states that saw an increase in employment. For example, in Texas, which gained more jobs since December than any other state, the unemployment rate rose from 4.2% to 5.0% in nine months. The story in manufacturing is more dismal, with all but six states shedding jobs. This follows ongoing job loss since late 2000 that totals more than 3.5 million.
Help could be on the way. In the past three weeks, both the Senate and the House have introduced legislation (S. 3507 and H.R. 6867) that would extend unemployment benefits to eligible workers in every state, with an additional 13 weeks in states with unemployment rates above 6.0%.