Energy-producing states have experienced unemployment levels well below those of other states in recent years, thanks in part to a boom in energy exploration that's been driven by high oil prices.
It's perhaps little surprise then that states that significantly contribute to the nation's production of oil, natural gas and other commodities outperformed those with troubled housing markets or ties to the banking sector during the first half of 2011, a new survey finds.
North Dakota, Alaska and Oklahoma, all substantial oil producers, along with West Virginia, known for its coal reserves and production, were among the top 10 job creators in the six months ending in June, according to the Gallup Job Creation Index.
North Dakota, which topped the list of 50 states and the District of Columbia, has seen an energy bonanza. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the Plains state boosted daily oil production 84 percent in the two years ending March 2011, the most recent data available.
The District of Columbia, the nation's second-best job creator, is perhaps best known for producing energy of a different sort -- hot air. Yet despite calls for reducing the size of government, the city of Washington, with its strong federal government-based job market and growing private sector lobbying industry, remained a top job creating region, according to the Gallup survey.
Iowa, known for corn and other commodity production as well as energy, was also among the top tier of states in job creation, along with agricultural states South Carolina, Nebraska and Georgia.
Delaware, with its strong ties to corporate America -- more than half of the Fortune 500 are incorporated there -- was also a top job producer.
Eight of the 10 states with the least job creation are familiar to Gallup's index. They made up the bulk of the list during the first half of 2010.
Although, as the polling organization notes, "the average score of the bottom 10 states has improved markedly," meaning that even those states with the lowest job-creation scores this time around were still better off than during the first half of last year.
States that trailed in job creation included those with strong ties to the financial sector, such as California, New York and New Jersey, but smaller states, such as Idaho, Rhode Island and New Hampshire, also struggled to create jobs.
Overall, Gallup says, the data suggest that the nation's job market improved during the first half to the year, compared to a year ago, but not enough to create strong growth. Further, it remains uncertain whether even such anemic job creation will continue through the rest of the year.
Looking forward, the polling organization says it's also unclear if strong worldwide demand for energy and commodities will continue to drive job creation in the U.S. Fallout from the Gulf oil spill and the resulting increase in environmental regulations may hamper the nation's energy production industry.
Further, Gallup says, as the global economy slows, a decline in demand worldwide "is likely to reduce job growth in the energy- and commodity-producing states."
Top 10 In Job Creation
State: Score (Source: Gallup Daily tracking, January-June 2011)
- North Dakota: 32
- District of Columbia: 27
- West Virginia: 26
- Alaska: 22
- Oklahoma: 21
- Iowa: 20
- Delaware: 20
- South Carolina: 20
- Nebraska: 19
- Georgia: 18
Bottom 10 In Job Creation
- Oregon: 4
- Nevada: 5
- New Jersey: 6
- New Mexico: 7
- New Hampshire: 7
- Rhode Island: 7
- California: 7
- Maine: 8
- New York: 8
- Idaho: 8
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