How States' Recent Job Growth Compares

See which states are adding more jobs and those that lag behind.
by | November 21, 2014

Most states continued to post steady employment gains in the Labor Department’s new jobs report issued Friday, but some lag behind the rest of the nation.

In all, 34 states reported unemployment rate declines for October while 15 recorded monthly payroll employment increases large enough to be considered statistically significant. The jobs outlook didn’t change much in the other states.

Looking back further, economic indicators show the recovery is progressing much faster in some states than others. North Dakota’s oil boom propelled payrolls up 5 percent over the year -- the largest increase nationally. Other states enjoying strong job growth in terms of total employment include Texas and Utah, up 3.7 percent and 3.8 percent from last October, respectively.

Some states that consistently posted among the highest jobless rates for the first period of the recovery have experienced steep declines. Nevada’s rate fell from 9.4 percent to 7.1 percent over the past 12 months. Illinois’ unemployment rate dropped from 9.1 percent last October to 6.6 percent last month, the largest decline of any state. Both states' economic indicators still lag behind the nation, though.

Georgia’s jobless rate hasn’t budged at 7.7 percent -- the nation’s highest rate. The state’s payroll employment growth, though, has performed relatively strong compared to other states.

“We had significant over-the-year growth in almost every sector, which shows the overall strength in our job recovery. I’m especially encouraged that the number of construction jobs grew by nearly five percent to give us the most jobs in that industry in five years,” said State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler in a news release.

Alaska’s economy has likely struggled more than any other state in recent months. It’s the only state to post a year-over-year decline in total employment and its unemployment rate remains one of the highest nationally at 6.8 percent.

New Jersey’s job growth -- measured by percentage change in jobs over the past 12 months – is dead last, following Alaska. Since last October, the state has added an average of less than 800 jobs per month. Much of its economic development strategy in recent years relied heavily on the use of tax incentives to lure and retain large employers.

Mississippi’s recovery has similarly trailed far behind the rest of the nation in recent months. Labor Department estimates indicate the state has added an average of less than 300 jobs per month since last October. The state's jobless rate also hasn’t changed much and is now second highest to only Georgia.

State Job Growth

The following map shows each state's percentage change in total nonfarm employment over the past 12 months:

 

SOURCES: Bureau of Labor Statistics, seasonally-adjusted data. October estimates are preliminary.