Not a state in the U.S. got off scot-free during the recession, but there are certainly those that fared better than others. Now that the country is slowly emerging from the economic crisis, the same story is true: some states are recovering faster than others, especially when it comes to the job market.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ most recent breakdown of regional and state unemployment numbers, in April 2011, “24 states posted jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 9 percent, seven states recorded measurably higher rates and 19 states and the District of Columbia had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.”
When it comes to figuring out the best and worst states for job seekers, while unemployment rate plays a large part, so does job creation, as well as the overall trend of the jobless rate in each state — the rate at which it is declining. After analyzing these factors, as well as a few other economic indicators, we came up with the states with the best — and worst — job markets. Where does your state rank?
1. North Dakota: During the recession, the unemployment rate in North Dakota peaked at a point that was lower than the pre-recession unemployment levels in many states, reaching a high of 4.3 percent in 2009. Since then, it has slowly declined to 3.3 percent, the lowest level in the country by far.
2. New Hampshire: The state’s unemployment rate currently sits at 4.9 percent, after reaching a high of 6.7 percent in 2009. New Hampshire may have the third lowest unemployment rate in the country, but it ranks No. 1 in another category that’s important to most job seekers: Income. According to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau late last year, New Hampshire has the highest median household income in the U.S.
3. Nebraska: Like North Dakota, Nebraska’s unemployment rate remained relatively low even at the height of the recession, peaking at 5 percent in 2009. It now sits at 4.2 percent — the second-lowest in the U.S. Since January 2011, Nebraska has also posted the fourth highest employment increase in the country, 1.9 percent.
4. South Dakota: South Dakota had one of the lowest pre-recession unemployment rates in the country — just 2.8 percent in December 2007. After increasing to a high of 5.2 percent in 2009, it’s since fallen to 4.9 percent
5. Texas: Though its unemployment rate may not be as low as the other states we’ve listed thus far (it’s still 8 percent), more jobs are being created in Texas than in any other state. From April 2010 through April 2011, 254,400 jobs were added. Plus, more people are employed in Texas — about 10.56 million — than in North Dakota, New Hampshire, Nebraska, South Dakota, Vermont, Indiana and Illinois combined. Both the high job creation rate and the high number of jobs are in part due to the fact that there are more Fortune 500 companies located in Texas than in any other state.
6. Vermont: Vermont’s unemployment rate is currently 5.3 percent, only 1.2 percent higher than prerecession level. Another testament to the health of the state? According to RealtyTrac’s February 2011 Foreclosure report, Vermont had the lowest rate of foreclosure in the country.
7. Virginia: The state’s unemployment rate is currently 6.1 percent, tied with Hawaii as the ninth-lowest in the country. However, Virginia also cracks the top-10 states in terms of year-over-year job creation: It added 28,100 new jobs between April 2010 and April 2011.
8. Pennsylvania: At 7.5 percent, not only is Pennsylvania’s jobless rate significantly lower than the national average, but employment in the state jumped by 80,000 jobs from April 2010 through April 2011, the third largest increase of any state.
9. Ohio: In April 2010, Ohio’s jobless rate was 10.4 percent. In April 2011, it was 8.6 percent, a 1.8 percent decline. In the same time period, Ohio added 67,000 new jobs, the fourth largest increase.
10. Illinois: Though the unemployment rate in Illinois peaked at 11.2 percent in 2010, it has since dropped to 8.7 percent, below the average national unemployment level of 9 percent. Since April 2010, Illinois had added 66,600 jobs, the fifth highest job creation of any state.
1. Nevada: The recession caused Nevada’s unemployment rate to spike nearly 10 percent, from around 5 percent in 2007, to nearly 15 percent in 2010. Though the state also posted the largest year-over-year drop in unemployment, which fell from 14.9 percent in April 2010 to 12.5 percent in April 2011, it still has the nation’s highest unemployment rate.
2. California: At 11.9 percent, California posts the nation’s second-highest unemployment rate. Despite adding more than 144,000 jobs between April 2010 and April 2011 — the second highest of any state in the country — its high unemployment rate only fell .5 percent in the same time frame.
3. Rhode Island: Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in New England and the third-highest in the country. At 10.9 percent, unemployment there is still 4.9 percent higher than prerecession levels, and job creation has been insignificant.
4. Florida: In addition to having the fourth-highest jobless rate in the country (10.8 percent), the Florida housing market is still badly distressed and new job creation in the state has been anemic.
5. Mississippi:In April 2011, the unemployment rate in Mississippi was 10.4 percent, .2 percent higher than a month earlier, in March 2011, and only slightly lower than in April 2010, when the jobless rate was 10.6 percent. The BLS data also shows that the state hasn’t had significant job gains in the last year.
6. Michigan: For a while in 2009, Michigan had the highest unemployment rate in the U.S. After peaking at 14.1 percent that same year, Michigan’s employment level is finally beginning to make a comeback, but at 10.2 percent, it still has a ways to go.
7. Idaho: Before the recession, Idaho’s unemployment rate was among the lowest in the country — 3.3 percent in December 2007. While other states seem to be in recovery mode, the unemployment rate in Idaho reached its peak — at 9.7 percent — in December 2010, a rate which it held until March 2011. Last month, in April 2011, the jobless rate dropped to 9.6 percent.
8. Alabama: At 9.3 percent, Alabama’s unemployment rate is just slightly higher than the national average. According to the BLS, though, the state has not seen a significant increase in job creation over the last year.
9. Kentucky: Kentucky is one of only seven states in the U.S. with an unemployment rate at-or-above 10 percent. However, its job market seems to be heading in the right direction. The economy added 24,700 jobs from April 2010 to April 2011, the eight largest increase of any state.
10. Georgia: The jobless rate in Georgia is a persistently high 9.9 percent. The state did, however, add 12,700 jobs in just one month — from March 2011 to April 2011, the third highest month-over-month jump of any state.
Does your personal experience match up with where your state is ranked? Let us know in the comments section, below.