Commentary | Jobs and Unemployment

Eight states face double-digit unemployment

Today’s release of state unemployment and jobs numbers shows that the recession is affecting all states, but some much more than others. Since the recession began in December 2007, the unemployment rate has gone up in all 50 states, with the national average now at 8.9%. There are now eight states, which make up over a quarter of the US population, with unemployment over 10%.

April, 2009
Michigan 12.9%
Oregon 12.0%
South Carolina 11.5%
Rhode Island 11.1%
California 11.0%
North Carolina 10.8%
Nevada 10.6%
Ohio 10.2%
District of Columbia 9.9%
Indiana 9.9%
Tennessee 9.9%


            Below are tables that show the top 10 (or 11 in the case of a tie) states in terms of percentage point change in unemployment rates in the recession, percent of jobs lost, and current unemployment rates. These essentially measure, respectively, the recession’s impact on workers, the impact on the economy, and how workers are faring.

Since December 2007
Unemployment Percentage Point Change   Job Loss (percent)
Oregon 6.7    Michigan -8.0%
North Carolina 5.8    Arizona -8.0%
South Carolina 5.7    Nevada -7.1%
Michigan 5.6    Florida -6.3%
Indiana 5.4    Idaho -6.1%
Nevada 5.4    Oregon -6.0%
Alabama 5.2    North Carolina -5.4%
Rhode Island 5.1    Ohio -5.3%
California 5.1    Georgia -5.2%
Florida 4.8    California -5.1%
       Indiana -5.1%

            In these top 10 lists, there are 6 states that make all three: California, Indiana, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, and Oregon. A common theme in many of these states is that manufacturing represents a large part of the state economy. Before the recession began, four of these states (Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, and Oregon) were well above the national average in terms of manufacturing jobs. As that industry declined, these state economies were unable to shift gears quickly enough and move workers to other jobs. As evidence of this, in these four states manufacturing jobs made up 14.6% of the total jobs, yet represent 41.2% of the total jobs lost since the recession began.

 state job loss chart

See related work on Unemployment

See more work by Kai Filion and Kathryn Anne Edwards