Which states have the best and worst job markets right now?
One of the most frequently asked questions of the post-recession is, “Where are the jobs?” And we dutifully attempt to point you in the right direction, whether it’s our weekly list of companies hiring, a monthly list of companies hiring, or our occasional look at the state of employment around the country. All of the above have one thing on common: They point to signs that jobs are out there for the taking, even if they’re not at the pre-recession levels.
Such is the case with the recently released employment figures and unemployment rates for each state in May, the most recent month for data is available. The data, as tallied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, reveals mixed news for job seekers throughout the country. Certainly, anything less than “unemployment reaches an all-time low” is going to be unwelcome news for many frustrated and discourage job seekers. However, compared to where the employment status has been over the past few years, we’re still trending in the right direction (even though we’re seeing hiccups here and there).
(The release contains more numbers and statistics than the average person cares to read, so if you want information for each state, look here.)
Here’s what we do know from April to May:
- 24 states experienced decreases in their unemployment rates
- 13 states and Washington, D.C., experienced increases in unemployment rates
- 13 states had no change in their unemployment rates
Perhaps most telling and promising are the year-over-year figures:
- 43 states and Washington, D.C., experienced decreased unemployment rates
- 4 states experienced increased unemployment rates
- The unemployment rate was 0.5 percent lower
When looking at states with the largest growth in employment month-over-month, you can look at both the raw numbers of employed workers and the percentages:
- Florida added the most jobs, with 28,000
- Ohio added the second most jobs, with 12,000
- Arizona and Louisiana each added 10,100 jobs
- Texas added 8,800 jobs
- In terms of percentage, Wyoming experienced the largest growth with 0.8 percent
- Louisiana came in second with a 0.5 percent increase
- Arizona and Florida each saw a 0.4 percent increase
For the not-so-great news in month-over-month news:
- California saw the steepest decrease, losing 29,200 jobs
- New York came in second with a 24,700 loss in jobs
- Pennsylvania experienced a 14,200 decrease in jobs
- Alaska’s employment dropped 1.5 percent, the largest decline
- Vermont’s employment decreased by 1.2 percent
- Delaware saw a 0.9 percent drop in employment
When looking at the good and bad in year-over-year numbers, here’s what we know compared to 2010:
- 39 states experienced increases in employment
- 11 states and Washington, D.C., saw decreases in employment
- North Dakota experienced the largest employment percentage gain with 4.3 percent
- Texas saw the second-largest gain, with 1.9 percent
- The largest decrease occurred in Maryland at 0.8 percent
- New Mexico was second was a decrease of 0.7 percent
And if what you want is to know where your best chances are for finding work, you can look to North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, and South Dakota, which registered the lowest unemployment rates in the country, ranging from 3.2 percent to 4.8 percent, respectively. Nevada and California have the worst unemployment rates, with 12.1 percent and 11.7 percent respectively.
Looking at where we are today can feel frustration or just downright confusing. If we’re post-recession, as experts say, shouldn’t we feel post-recession? Shouldn’t every state be adding jobs and employment rates be increasing steadily? Ideally, yes. In reality, the economic turnaround isn’t an overnight occurrence, and the year-over-year numbers show an overwhelmingly positive trend.
Far be it for me or anyone to tell job seekers, “See, it’s not that bad!” because when you’re having trouble finding a job, all that matters is whether or not you’re close to earning a paycheck. And looking at this information, the best news we can take from this is that there is more good news than bad coming out of monthly employment reports.
That’s what the report says. But we want to hear from you, the job seekers, both employed and unemployed, what kind of changes you’ve seen from this time last. Is the job market improving for you? Do you see more opportunities out there? Are your friends and family having better luck finding work? Let us know.