Job growth improves in 20 states

More state labor markets are pulling out of the economic slump created by the recession. As recently as March of this year, only two states (North Dakota and Alaska) were adding nonfarm jobs year-over-year. By May, the number of states posting year-to-year growth had improved to an even dozen. Now, based on June nonfarm employment figures from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the past 12 months are up in an expanded total of 20 states. These gains don’t mean that job creation is on the verge of a boom, but the percentage decrease of 0.05 percent for the nation was the smallest recorded in two years of monthly year-over-year job losses.  

By Lee McPheters

Economy@W. P. Carey

(Note: Complete current and historical rankings and data on year-over-year non-agricultural employment changes for states and metro areas are available at the newly-expanded Job Growth Update, published by the W. P. Carey School, including extensive detail on employment by industry.)

More state labor markets are pulling out of the economic slump created by the recession. As recently as March of this year, only two states (North Dakota and Alaska) were adding nonfarm jobs year-over-year. By May, the number of states posting year-to-year growth had improved to an even dozen. Now, based on June nonfarm employment figures from the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the past 12 months are up in an expanded total of twenty states.

These gains don’t mean that job creation is on the verge of a boom. Employment in 30 states and the nation-as-a-whole declined over-the-year once again in June. But the percentage decrease of 0.05 percent for the nation was the smallest recorded in two years of monthly year-over-year job losses.

Percentage gains are still small

The largest employment percentage increase for the past 12 months was posted by New Hampshire (1.46%). Other states with gains exceeding one percent included Kentucky, Alaska, Indiana, and Utah (see table). While increases of one percent may seem small, the positive growth for states in June is far better than just a few months ago, when every state lost jobs year-over-year in December of 2009.

In New Hampshire, the percentage gains were paced by strong increases in services both to businesses and consumers. Employment was up by more than 19 percent as the category “administrative and support and waste management and remediation services” within the business services industry added 5,000 new jobs. Food services including restaurants grew by 4,100 jobs over June of last year.


Employment Increased in Twenty States in June(Percentage change June 2010 vs. June 2009)

Thousands of Jobs


State RankJune %Change JobGrowth June2010 June2009
New Hampshire 1 1.46 9,200 641.30 632.10
Kentucky 2 1.26 22,400 1,798.7 1,776.3
Alaska 3 1.24 4,200 342.4 338.2
Indiana 4 1.08 30,100 2,809.1 2,779.0
Utah 5 1.03 12,200 1,202.3 1,190.1
North Dakota 6 0.92 3,400 374.9 371.5
Texas 7 0.85 87,800 10,409.2 10,321.4
South Carolina 8 0.77 14,100 1,844.3 1,830.2
North Carolina 9 0.77 30,000 3,947.0 3,917.0
Michigan 10 0.63 24,400 3,910.5 3,886.1
Massachusetts 11 0.61 19,700 3,223.0 3,203.3
Louisiana 12 0.49 9,400 1,910.0 1,900.6
Pennsylvania 13 0.48 26,900 5,663.9 5,637.0
Minnesota 14 0.41 11,000 2,698.4 2,687.4
Arkansas 15 0.39 4,500 1,168.4 1,163.9
Delaware 16 0.26 1,100 423.3 422.2
Maryland 17 0.20 5,200 2,558.1 2,552.9
Nebraska 18 0.13 1,200 953.5 952.3
Tennessee 19 0.07 1,800 2,603.1 2,601.3
Virginia 20 0.04 1,500 3,679.5 3,678.0
U.S. -0.05 69,000 131,456.0 131,520.0
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, compiled by W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University

The Texas economy created the most new jobs (87,800) during the past 12 months. Health care was the single largest growth category, with more than 45,000 jobs. Federal and local governments each grew by more than 20,000 workers, and Texas oil and gas related employment was up by 15,100 in June.

No state has reported consistent growth across all industries so far in the current recovery. In Michigan, for example, manufacturing employment surged by 27,200 new jobs, but construction and finance were both down by more than 8,000 jobs over-the-year in June. Still, Michigan’s reversal to positive over-the-year job growth was the first since the spring of 2005. And, importantly, the June manufacturing increase was the second consecutive gain, after an unbroken string of 128 monthly over-the-year decreases extending back a full decade, to the summer of 2000.

The Bottom Ten

States from the West and the South accounted for nine of the bottom ten states ranked by year-over-year percentage employment change in June. Nevada’s employment decline of 2.3 percent placed the state in 50th position for the 19th consecutive month, starting in December of 2008. The sole Northeastern state in the bottom ten, Rhode Island was in 49th place for the third month.

Western states among the very weakest labor markets included New Mexico (48th), California (47th), Colorado (46th) and Oregon (44th). California, the nation’s largest state, lost the greatest number of jobs (213,400) of any state in the past 12 months.

Other states rounding out the bottom ten included Georgia (45th), West Virginia (43rd), Mississippi (42nd) and Alabama (41st).