Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Post-Recession Job Growth and Unemployment Change: U.S. vs States

Oregon's job situation has improved more than the U.S. since the official end of the national recession in June 2009. June's employment data show that on a percentage-change basis, Oregon's job growth and unemployment declines were higher than the nation's. The graph below illustrates the distribution of states (plus the District of Columbia) on these factors of change, divided by quadrants based on the size of job growth and drop in the number of unemployed between June 2009 and June 2012. Oregon and the U.S. are noted by the red markers.

The number of unemployed Oregonians dropped 26.6 percent between June 2009 and June 2012, while nonfarm employment grew 2.4 percent. This puts Oregon in the upper left-hand quadrant, reserved for states with better employment and unemployment improvements than the U.S., which grew 2.0 percent and declined 13.4 percent over that period, respectively.

There are several outliers here, North Dakota being the largest. Over the past 3 years, the state's employment grew an astounding 15.5 percent as the oil boom took over. Alaska is another state that has seen high growth in the number of employed (+9.2%), while the number of jobless fell 5.8 percent over the past 3 years.

As for our neighbors to the north, Washington's job situation improved at nearly the same rate as the U.S. since the end of the recession. Our near-neighbors to the east, Idaho and Wyoming, had close to the same job growth as the U.S., although  Idaho lagged behind Wyoming and the nation for lower unemployment. California's job growth, at 2.2 percent, was slightly higher than the U.S. but unemployment was worse: the state saw a lower drop of 5.6 percent.

The states that made the least improvement, compared with the U.S., were mostly in the south: Arkansas, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Georgia. A couple of southwestern states were also in this same boat: Nevada and New Mexico. The states that made the greatest improvements were scattered throughout the midwest and east coast, with a couple of representatives from the south (Tennessee and South Carolina).

Since these data are taken from two different sources, a household survey and an employer survey, the numbers can move in the same direction, i.e. the number of unemployed could rise even as the number of jobs grows. For more on the difference between these surveys, check out this article, written by Economist David Cooke and Research Analyst Tracy Morrissette.

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