The Best And Worst States For Job Seekers

best worst states job searchBy Debra Auerbach


There have been signs of economic growth this month. Earlier in the month we learned that as of December 2011, the national jobless rate was at 8.5 percent, a rate that's continued to trend down since February 2009.

Yet not all states are created equal when it comes to economic recovery. Some states weathered the recession better than others. And while most states have seen a decline in unemployment post-recession, others have dealt with fluctuating jobless rates. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' recent breakdown of regional and state unemployment numbers for December 2011, the most recent figures available, "Twenty-four states reported jobless rates significantly lower than the U.S. figure of 8.5 percent, eight states and the District of Columbia had measurably higher rates, and 18 states had rates that were not appreciably different from that of the nation."

In taking a closer look at which states are on the road to recovery and which ones are still hitting speed bumps, we first reviewed each state's unemployment rates as of December 2011. Also examined were trends in joblessness - whether it's been on the decline and the rate in which it's declining - and other factors such as foreclosures and household income. Here's a look at some of the best and worst states for job seekers.


Best state unemployment rates*

1. North Dakota

Why: During the recession, North Dakota's unemployment rate peaked at 4.3 percent in 2009, a rate that was still significantly lower than the national average. The rate hasn't gone above 4 percent since April 2010.

Unemployment rate: 3.3 percent

2. Nebraska

Why: Nebraska was the state with the second lowest unemployment rate in December 2011, at 4.1 percent. It also experienced statistically significant employment changes from December 2010 to December 2011, with a job gain of 13,100.

Unemployment rate: 4.1 percent

3. South Dakota

Why: South Dakota had one of the lowest pre-recession unemployment rates in the country - just 2.8 percent in December 2007. Its current jobless rate is still well under the national average. In addition, it saw a statistically significant employment change from November to December 2011, with a job gain of 4,600.

Unemployment rate: 4.2 percent

4. New Hampshire

Why: New Hampshire's unemployment rate is 3.4 percent lower than the national average. What's more, according to statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau, New Hampshire has the highest median household income in the U.S., at $66,303**.

Unemployment rate: 5.1 percent

5. Vermont

Why: Vermont's December 2011 unemployment rate was 5.1 percent, and it has experienced a statistically significant year-over-year unemployment rate change of -0.7 percent. It also ranks in the top 15 in median household income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Unemployment rate: 5.1 percent

6. Iowa

Why: Iowa's unemployment rate of 5.6 percent is at its lowest level since June 2009. According to the state, Iowa has added 13,300 total jobs compared to a year ago.

Unemployment rate: 5.6 percent

7. Minnesota

Why: This Midwest state has experienced statistically significant year-over-year employment changes from December 2010 to December 2011, with a job gain of 26,300. Its current unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since September 2008.

Unemployment rate: 5.7 percent

8. Wyoming

Why: After hitting its unemployment rate peak at 7.7 percent in late 2009, the rate has continued to trend downward and is currently 2.7 percent lower than the national average. Additionally, Wyoming has the lowest unemployment rate in the Western region.

Unemployment rate: 5.8 percent

9. Utah

Why: Utah saw statistically significant employment changes from December 2010 to December 2011, with a job gain of 36,000.

Unemployment rate: 6 percent

10. Oklahoma

Why: Although Oklahoma's unemployment rate has hovered at 6.1 percent since October 2011, it did have a statistically significant employment change year-over-year from December 2010 to December 2011, with a job gain of 41,600.

Unemployment rate: 6.1 percent


Worst state unemployment rates

1. Nevada

Why: Nevada has the worst unemployment rate in the country, at 12.6 percent. It also saw a statistically significant employment change of -9,800 from November to December 2011. To rub salt in the wound, Nevada topped RealtyTrac's list of state foreclosure rates in 2010.

Unemployment rate: 12.6 percent

2. California

Why: While California's unemployment rate did decrease by 0.2 percent from November to December 2011, its rate of 11.1 percent is still 2.6 percentage points higher than the national rate. According to RealtyTrac, California's December 2011 foreclosure rate was one of the highest in the nation.

Unemployment rate: 11.1 percent

3. Rhode Island

Why: Rhode Island has the worst unemployment rate in New England. It's also one of the three states where unemployment increased in December.

Unemployment rate: 10.8 percent

4. Mississippi

Why: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Mississippi has the lowest median household income, at $36,850. Its unemployment rate also experienced an increase from a year prior.

Unemployment rate: 10.4 percent

5. District of Columbia

Why: While the District of Columbia isn't a state, it's still worth including on the list given its high unemployment rate. Its unemployment rate actually increased from a year earlier, going from 9.6 percent in December 2010 to 10.4 percent in December 2011.

Unemployment rate: 10.4 percent

6. North Carolina

Why: North Carolina has the highest unemployment rate in the South Atlantic, excluding the District of Columbia. Its December 2011 unemployment rate of 9.9 percent is 1.4 percent above the U.S. average.

Unemployment rate: 9.9 percent

7. Florida

Why: While Florida's unemployment rate is on the decline, it's still the seventh highest unemployment rate in the country. Plus, it had one of the highest 2010 foreclosure rates, according to RealtyTrac.

Unemployment rate: 9.9 percent

8. Illinois

Why: According to Business Insider, Illinois is one of the top 10 states with the most foreclosures in 2010, with 151,304 foreclosures last year.

Unemployment rate: 9.8 percent

9. Georgia

Why: While the state's unemployment rate was down for the third consecutive month, the state labor department disclosed that metro Atlanta's unemployment rate rose to 9.4 percent in December from 9.2 percent in November. Georgia also experienced the third-largest over-the-year percentage decrease in employment of -0.4 percent.

Unemployment rate: 9.7 percent

10. South Carolina

Why: South Carolina's median household income of $42,059 is the seventh lowest in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Its unemployment rate hasn't been below 9 percent in three years.

Unemployment rate: 9.5 percent


*Unless otherwise noted, data was pulled from the BLS.

**Median household income (In 2010 Inflation-adjusted dollars) by state ranked from highest to lowest Using three-year average: 2008-2010.


Next: The 'Average' Worker Is Dead



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49 Comments

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jj

Debra, your not comparing apples with apples when it comes to States with low unemployment and States with high unemployments.... Your comparing California with North Dakota???? Maybe you should check out just the population of LA with just the State of all off N.Dakota. Please!

July 20 2012 at 2:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrflorida

Name the top 10 States that are fun to visit, people want live in, and value diversity,,,

1. Nevada
2. California
3. Rhode Island
4. Mississippi
5. District of Columbia
6. North Carolina
7. Florida
8. Illinois
9. Georgia
10. South Carolina

March 28 2012 at 10:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrflorida

Name the Top 10 States that don't value diversity or, either, have the coldest climates or are ruled by religious fundamentalists?

1. North Dakota
2. Nebraska
3. South Dakota
4. New Hampshire
5. Vermont
6. Iowa
7. Minnesota
8. Wyoming
9. Utah
10. Oklahoma

March 28 2012 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mrflorida's comment
Steve

Duh! Let me guess, you live in Nevada and ate a bowl of sour grapes for lunch? Nebraska is nowhere near the coldest climate and neither is it 'ruled' by religious fundamentalists. Same with the other states you mentioned (save for some of them are pretty cold). Try coming out from under the rock where you live (or is it a radioactive mushroom cloud?) and smell the coffee. Oh, and by the way, D.C. is not a state, and I have no desire to visit there or several of the other places listed on the list on your post above this one.

August 20 2012 at 1:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Anita

i do wish that rhode island would make a list for something POSITIVE for once lol

January 30 2012 at 2:55 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Richard

How China Transformed Its Economy
In 1978, the farmers in a small Chinese village gathered in a mud hut to sign a secret contract. It wound up transforming China’s economy in ways that are still reverberating today.

Everyone worked on the village’s collective farm; there was no personal property.

There was never enough food and they were desperate. So, in the winter of 1978 they came up with an idea: Rather than farm as a collective, each family would get to farm its own plot of land, If a family grew a lot of food, that family could keep some of the harvest. SETTING THE STAGE FOR THE BEGINNING OF A FREE MARKET ECONOMY.

The incentive was now in place for those farmers wishing to improve their own standard of living to do so by virtue of their own labor.

And with that, the tragedy of a commons mentality vanquished, and starvation ceased to be an issue. The simple rule of “keep what you make” had transformed the economy overnight.

The results were immediate, as that year’s harvest was bigger than the last five years’ harvests combined. According to one farmer, “we all secretly competed — everyone wanted to produce more than the next person.”

As a man becomes both an entrepreneur and speculator, and knows he can keep the fruits of his labors, he will use them efficiently and judiciously to maximize his output.

And so the free market economy once again proved its superiority over socialism.

January 30 2012 at 12:25 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Richard

The only red states that have high unemployment are states with a large minority population.

January 30 2012 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard

7 out of 10 of the worst states are BLUE


Nevada--- blue

California---blue

Rhode Island---blue

Mississippi----red

District of Columbia---blue

North Carolina----blue

Florida----blue

Illinois-----blue

Georgia----red

South Carolina--red

7 OUT OF 10 OF THE BEST STATES ARE RED.

North Dakota---RED

Nebraska----RED

South Dakota---RED

New Hampshire----Blue

Vermont----BLUE

Iowa----BLUE

Minnesota----Blue

Wyoming----RED

Utah----RED

Oklahoma---RED

January 30 2012 at 12:18 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Richard

7 out of 10 of the worst states are BLUE


Nevada--- blue

California---blue

Rhode Island---blue

Mississippi----red

District of Columbia---blue

North Carolina----blue

Florida----blue

Illinois-----blue

Georgia----red

South Carolina--red

7 OUT OF 10 OF THE BEST STATES ARE RED.

North Dakota---RED

Nebraska----RED

South Dakota---RED

New Hampshire----Blue

Vermont----BLUE

Iowa----BLUE

Minnesota----Blue

Wyoming----RED

Utah----RED

Oklahoma---RED

January 30 2012 at 12:16 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sailngr8

North Carolina is a right to work state, but that has nothing to do with it. It's the inside track to Obama's wisdom that our Governor, who has announced she won't be running for reelection, has enjoyed.

January 29 2012 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rvheaney

Keep up the great job Obama and soon we will have 50 percent unemployment !

January 29 2012 at 11:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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