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Sunday, August 17, 2014 11:01 PM

What States are the Biggest Job Winners and Losers in the Recovery?

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The Deloitte University Press has a very interesting, and comprehensive study on job gains and losses, by type of job, and state by state.

The biggest winners are states involved in energy production, finance, or healthcare. The biggest losers are states that did not recover from the real estate bust, or lost population due to emigration.

With that overview, let's dive deeper into the Geography of Jobs.

Only now, as we reach the fifth anniversary of the end of the recession, has employment in the United States finally regained its pre-recession peak. The national story of slow recovery obscures the more complicated regional picture: As is the case during most business cycles, the pace of recovery has been very uneven among the states. At present, only 16 states plus the District of Columbia have employment rates at least one percent higher than they had prior to the start of the recession.

Among the states that have experienced the highest overall employment gains are the beneficiaries of expanding energy production. Among the states where employment remains substantially below pre-recession levels are those states most affected by the bursting of the housing bubble and those with declining manufacturing employment.

click on chart for sharper image

Only 16 states and the District of Columbia are at least one percent above their pre-recession employment levels. For more than half of these states (North Dakota, Texas, Alaska, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma, Montana, West Virginia, and Louisiana), expanding energy production has played a key role in driving employment growth. The District of Columbia and the other employment-gaining states can attribute their total employment growth to increases in a variety of sectors, most notably health services and leisure and hospitality.

Four of these states (North Dakota, Colorado, Texas, and South Dakota) and the District of Columbia also had among the highest proportional increases in population due to inflows of people from other states between 2010 and 2013 (net domestic migration) as people moved to where the jobs were. Texas alone added more than 400,000 people from other states (1.5 percent of its 2013 population) during this period.

The recession was significantly more severe for the states that fall at the bottom of the job recovery rankings; these states continued to lose jobs well after the end of the recession. Job creation did not pick up in Nevada and New Jersey until the beginning of 2011 and did not pick up in Alabama and Maine until the middle of 2011. It took until the middle of 2012 for employment to begin to grow in New Mexico.

Population also migrated away from the states at the bottom of the job recovery rankings: Of those in the bottom 10, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico, Connecticut, Michigan, Rhode Island, and Illinois all lost population to domestic migration.

Currently only North Dakota, the District of Columbia, and Oklahoma have more construction workers than they did in December 2007. Two of the states in the bottom 10 for employment recovery, Nevada and Arizona, were the hardest hit by the bursting of the housing bubble: At present, construction employment in Nevada is 51 percent below, and in Arizona is 42 percent below, their December 2007 construction employment levels. The other three states that remain at the bottom in terms of employment recovery—Alabama, New Mexico, and New Jersey—all have construction employment losses at least five percentage points higher than the national average.
The report takes a detailed look at mining, construction, and manufacturing gains and losses.

Mining is of course a net overall gain, while hard-hit manufacturing states were slow to recover.

Here are a few of my own conclusions, not from the report:

  • California no doubt benefited from Silicon Valley in spite of an overall hostile business environment and tax setup
  • Illinois was hit with a series of misguided tax hikes to the point Caterpillar threatened to leave the state. Illinois has no redeeming features to offset high taxes and other mistakes.
  • D.C. benefited from national politics and lobbying.
  • In general, red vs. blue is not the name of the game, but rather "what have you done for me lately".

It's a nice report. Inquiring minds may wish to take a closer look.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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