January’s state employment data released this week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics picked up where December left off, with generally positive news for most states. Yet, despite continued positive signs, only North Dakota has both replaced the jobs lost during the recession and created enough jobs to keep up with population growth.
From October 2013 to January 2014, 34 states saw gains in employment. Nevada, Vermont, and Arizona led employment gains, each recording gains of 1.0 percent or more. During the same period, 16 states and the District of Columbia lost jobs.
From October 2013 to January 2014, unemployment rates declined in every state. The South and Northeast saw the largest declines in unemployment rates, down 0.7 percentage points and 0.9 percentage points respectively between October and January.
In January, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate was the highest in the nation, at 9.2 percent, followed by Illinois and Nevada, both with 8.7 percent unemployment. In total, 18 states and the District of Columbia had unemployment rates above the national average of 6.6 percent. By contrast, 12 states maintained unemployment rates below the pre-recession national average of 5.0 percent.
Policymakers’ failure to make job creation the driving force behind federal budget making continues to take its toll in every corner of the nation, and the return to full employment remains alarmingly far off. Financing necessary public investments, as proposed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus in the “Better Off Budget,” is key to achieving full economic recovery and long-term fiscal health.