2 States Where Unemployment Is Growing and 1 With Plenty of Jobs

Americans have witnessed firsthand the slow U.S. economic recovery over the past several years. Since peaking at 10% in late 2009, the unemployment rate has gradually fallen to 7.6% as of last month. While GDP growth has been uneven, the U.S. economy has been expanding since the third quarter of 2009 after sharply contracting in the previous year.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce.

However, the economic recovery has not benefited all states equally. As of March, seven states still had unemployment rates of 9% to 10%: Nevada, Illinois, Mississippi, California, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and New Jersey. However, two stand out as being in particularly bad shape: Illinois and Mississippi, both of which saw unemployment grow year over year. By contrast, some states are already back to boom-time levels. Most notable among them is North Dakota, where unemployment is just 3.3%.

Biggest losers
Illinois saw the biggest year-over-year jump in unemployment in the U.S. last month. At 9.5%, the Illinois unemployment rate is at a level last seen in 2011. Even worse, the labor force shrank last month, suggesting that tens of thousands of people gave up looking for work. The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate has risen by nearly a full percentage point since December. Moreover, things may not get better anytime soon; earlier this month, Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT  ) announced that it would permanently lay off 460 workers in the state due to falling demand for mining equipment.

Many Illinois residents worry that the state is losing its competitiveness compared to neighbors like Indiana and Wisconsin because of higher taxes, a growing public-debt burden, and a severely underfunded pension fund. Caterpillar executives have threatened to move jobs out of Illinois because of rising tax rates. This is a significant threat, because the company is one of Illinois' largest private employers, with about 23,000 workers in the state.

The outlook is not quite so dire in Mississippi, but the state is still falling behind the rest of America. On a seasonally adjusted basis, Mississippi has seen its labor force shrink and its unemployment rate rise since December. The state saw a slight decline in unemployment last month, but only because people left the workforce. On the bright side, the state has added almost 15,000 jobs since March, 2012. However, the tourism-based economy of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is still suffering negative effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. Many people remain nervous about the safety of the Gulf of Mexico, hurting hotels, restaurants, and a variety of other businesses.

A big winner
On the other hand, if you live in North Dakota, you probably don't have to worry about finding a job. North Dakota has had the lowest unemployment in the U.S. for some time, and it's no secret why. North Dakota has benefited from a tremendous oil boom in the past few years as advances in hydraulic fracturing have opened up a huge oil-drilling opportunity in the Bakken shale formation. Companies like Whiting Petroleum (NYSE: WLL  ) -- the top Bakken driller -- have rapidly expanded production as oil prices have remained near $100. Whiting's production increased 22% year over year in 2012, and the company plans to ramp up investment this year to boost production even further.

The Bakken oil boom has created lots of jobs in the oil sector, but there are plenty of other jobs available. The population boom in western North Dakota has created a tremendous demand for housing and other services. On the other hand, there is a cost to this rapid growth. With so many people flooding into the Bakken oil region so quickly, the cost of living has skyrocketed and could remain elevated until development catches up with population growth.

Foolish bottom line
In Illinois and Mississippi, the recovery from the Great Recession has been tentative, with unemployment recently beginning to trend up again. Illinois in particular seems to be at risk for another slowdown, as businesses may be spooked by the state's budget problems. On the other hand, there are plenty of jobs to be had in North Dakota, as the state's oil boom has created demand for workers in a variety of occupations. However, as the cost of living rises, even relatively well-paid workers there may not be on Easy Street.

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  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 9:41 AM, Hjin wrote:

    Illinois's troubles are due to Democratic mismanagement. Mississippi's troubles are due to lingering issues from BP's oil spill. North Dakota's boom is due to Republican push for particular energy policies.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 9:50 AM, philthymcnasty wrote:

    " Mississippi's troubles are due to lingering issues from BP's oil spill."

    Have you ever been to Mississippi? They have always been struggling with jobs growth. Seriously, partisan rubbish like this is whats been discrediting our party and needs to stop! I have always been stressing the need for economic reform in Mississippi. They need serious help in school reform, and in economic growth, yet are always ignored in Washington by both parties because they simply are taken for granted or do not have enough electoral college votes to matter. We when refuse to help states improve the whole country is hurt, and the lack of resources spent to fix this problem demonstrates whats wrong with our political system.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 9:58 AM, irishVermonter wrote:

    How can this be Ilinois is run by thr Democrats while North Dakota is run by the REPUBLICANS?

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 10:04 AM, duudaa wrote:

    The economic collapse has been brutal in Florida. I doubt many people are working in the whole panhandle. The wages are so low here we should be able to under cut the Red Chinese very soon.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 10:18 AM, sparkyracer wrote:

    When North Dakota's oil is used up, the state will look like Detriot, abandoned for other jobs. Mississippi has always been stressed for jobs because they don't invest in their education system enough, and BP made it worse. And there is not enough oil in the world to fix Illinios. At least we are turning slowly to the positive in CA, and we have great weather and oh those CA girls.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 10:31 AM, ImtheBaldEagle wrote:

    Actually the unemployment number is more properly about 15% or more as you disregarded those who have given up looking for a job. If you disregard those who have given up looking why not also disregard those who might be looking for a job but are not really motivated. It's easy to manipulate statistics by establishing faulty parameters to reflect what you want to reflect. Also you disregard those on welfare who are actually being paid not to work.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 10:40 AM, gvjanand wrote:

    The reason for IL continue to decline is the manufacturing job is shifting from IL to China, if that stopped then IL will have more jobs.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 10:58 AM, TMFGemHunter wrote:

    North Dakota has enough oil to keep production going there for a long time. The only real variable is oil prices; if they really collapse, then the North Dakota oil industry could have trouble.

    As for unemployment, I don't disagree that the percentage number doesn't give the full story about economic strength. However, in terms of year-to-year comparisons and state-to-state comparisons, I think the unemployment/labor force numbers give a pretty good idea of how the states compare to one another.

    Adam

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 11:12 AM, wrhc wrote:

    Sounds like Illinois is really screwing things up for its citizens. The reason IL is declining is NOT because the manufacturing jobs are going to China. Although Caterpillar permanently laid off over 460 workers in IL, they are building a brand new plant in Georgia and hiring substantially more employees than 460. Georgia is also a "right to work" state and an "at will" state. The climate is better, the workforce is skilled and the state will even bear the expenses to train a company's workforce through their Quickstart program (#1 training program in the nation). Illinois could take some lessons from Georgia it would appear. I'm sure Georgia is happy that these other states are repelling manufacturers.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 11:17 AM, Jorioz wrote:

    "Mississippi's troubles are due to lingering issues from BP's oil spill."

    This myth had been propagated for a couple of years. The blowout and spill brought untold revenue and profit booms to the Gulf Coast states. Restaurants, hotels, car rental agencies, equipment sub-contractors, security firms, response specialists, boat and engine servicing are but a few of the industries who had record years in 2010 and have grown and profited hugely in 2011-12. The media, in some agenda-driven journalism designed to destroy BP and/or the oil industry, has lied about this. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama can rack up this event as the greatest economic boon to happen to their states since World War II.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 11:22 AM, sogole wrote:

    What recovery?

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 11:31 AM, joshzzz wrote:

    Please don't publish that there are plenty of jobs in North Dakota. There aren't!

    Hundreds of thousands of unemployed people headed to North Dakota believing it was a job paradise based on media stories like yours and they discovered there was no work for them.

    Local Salvation Army groups paid for many of these people to their original home as the weather is extremely harsh in the North Dakota.

    The truth is, the United States is fast becoming a third world country with a few elite controlling all the resources.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 11:32 AM, joshzzz wrote:

    Please don't publish that there are plenty of jobs in North Dakota. There aren't!

    Hundreds of thousands of unemployed people headed to North Dakota believing it was a job paradise based on media stories like yours and they discovered there was no work for them.

    Local Salvation Army groups paid for many of these people to return to their original homes as the weather is extremely harsh in the North Dakota.

    The truth is, the United States is fast becoming a third world country with a few elite controlling all the resources.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:05 PM, mbee1 wrote:

    the official unemployement rate is a fantazy and always has been. The unemployment rate is at leaast double tthe official rate as people who have stoped looking are simply not countred. If you go to the ghettos black or brown, the unemployment rate of the young adults is at least 90 percent which is the reason we have the highest prison rate in the world.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:06 PM, anothermom22 wrote:

    Joshzzz, you're right. My husband is in ND right now as he works for the oil/gas industry. While jobs in that field are very lucrative right now they are specialized jobs that require some experience. And they have harsh working conditions that most people would not tolerate. Many men work 2 weeks solid (living in desolate "man camps") and then go home for 2 weeks. You also have to be will to handle the harsh weather. It's a bit deceptive to hear of ND's low unemployment rate as the work force there is different than the rest of the country.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:11 PM, peterwolf wrote:

    You mean 'the Golden State' still is mired in sky-high unemployment?? How can this be?? We were told that once the Democrats attained a complete majority in the California State Assembly and Governors office ( which they have ) then they'd fix this problem. Instead what we've gotten is higher taxes , a stagnant economy and terrible unemployment. Who would have ever guessed??

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:18 PM, bugmenot wrote:

    Illinois is Obama's state. Obama is the lead politician and policy maker of Illinois. The state is bankrupt! Chicago is the most politically corrupt city in the nation (Univ of Illinois study). Illinois taxes the POOR the MOST (actually 2nd of all states). Chicago, Obama's city, has tough gun laws and the highest murder rate! One innocent child is murdered each week and the killer already has a rap sheet! Obama is clearly the leader of the Chicago Drug Gangs. Why would the top politician in the US let them survive? It is up to the people to remove Obama from office. Call your Senator and demand impeachment.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:44 PM, scrumrob wrote:

    Partisan sniping is not helpful. Mississippi is a state that has more problems than a dog has fleas. Its long history of not dealing well with racial integration has led it to possibly the worst education system of any state in the country. Its level of poverty is one of the highest in the country and has been so since the days of slavery.

    The Republicans who run the state were largely the same Democrats who ran the state until they switched parties. They have changed shirts but they are still the same backwards looking,, mean-spirited religious fundamentalists who have always run the state. That description fits the vast majority of Southern Republican politicians. If he was from the South, Chris Christie would not be a Republican.

    I lived in the South from age 1 to age 58. I know a little bit about the place having grown up on a farm during the Civil Rights era then moved to Atlanta in my 20s. I am also white and have listened to more than a few of my white compatriots express their views. Racism and ignorance amongst whites and blacks is still going strong in the South especially. Probably, those things are strong elsewhere, but my experience tells me it is strongest in the South. It is better than it was in the 1960s when the Republicans started their Southern strategy of exploiting white racism to achieve political power.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 12:54 PM, Gowithit wrote:

    Ironic, Illinois struggling is because of politics but Mississippi struggling needs excuses. or vice versa...And who said both sides weren't delusional? Let's actually give the real story, if you're a state with natural energy resources, you're doing well, if you had a manufacturing history, you're struggling.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 1:00 PM, scrumrob wrote:

    You folks who like to take this stuff and bash Obama are part of the problem. The article was about unemployment and focused on the two states where it is growing. It does not mention the thousands who have gone there looking for jobs only to discover they do not have the skills to get them. They often spend all the money they have moving to North Dakota and end up stuck there, but since they don't draw on unemployment, they are not counted in the unemployment statistics.

    The problems in Illinois are necessarily statewide since some areas are doing well. It doesn't have a lot to do with union or non-union, but more to do with aging plants, aging infrastructure, and falling demand. If it was due to party, then Mississippi ought to be booming since Republicans have held nearly unchallenged control of the state for two decades. The problems in Mississippi are statewide and have more to do with lack of skills, lack of education, and really poor infrastructure. Mississippi and much of the South has a long history of not investing in their people or their infrastructure. If it wasn't for federal funding, the interstate highways that now crisscross the region and contribute enormously to the economies would not have been built.

    The writer who mentioned that Caterpillar is building a new plant in Georgia thinks it has to do with Georgia being right-to-work. I guess he doesn't know how that works. Before Ford and GM shut down their plants near Atlanta because they were old and demand was falling for what they built, the workers were pretty proud members of the United Auto Workers. I had two cousins who worked at GM in Atlanta. Both were good ole boys, but when strikes happened, they went out on strike.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 1:09 PM, marxwj wrote:

    Mississippi gets no federal support? They had a very powerful congressmen that made the Navy purchase several major ships that were built at Mississippi shipyards. He got swamps filled in and shoring built so that some of those Gulf Coast resorts could be built in the first place.

    For too many years the Mississippi economy has been primarily supported by the Federal government.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 1:38 PM, TMFGemHunter wrote:

    Thanks scrumrob. I agree to a large extent with what you wrote. To some extent Illinois has had bad luck (Caterpillar moved some other work out of Illinois in order to focus the Decatur plant on mining equipment; now that the resource boom is cooling off, the plant doesn't have enough work anymore). But some of Illinois' problems can be attributed to bad public policy. (I lived in IL from 2007-2012)

    As for Mississippi, there may have been a cleanup boom in 2011, but that's long gone by now. Obviously, Mississippi has some fundamental issues beyond the oil spill, including education. That said, professional/business services (a relatively high-skill area) saw employment grow almost 10%. The biggest problem actually seems to be agriculture. Non-farm payrolls have been growing, albeit slowly, but total employment is still shrinking.

    Adam

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 4:30 PM, quasimodo007 wrote:

    the GOP congress Privilege Crooks of wall street still getting Huge Bonuses and Pay and TAX free paid Perks . GREED and Corruption is their Motto.

    RIP OFF the POOR Americans . Outsource USA Jobs to get huge Tax breaks

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 4:44 PM, dlynn82 wrote:

    Oh really, Caterpillar executives are whining about paying taxes in Illinois! Might these be the same "executives" that have been raking money in hand over fist in Dubai ! True, Dubai can print money in a never ending supply and Caterpillar has been one of the major recipients of all that money. But "typical", they whine about actually "contributing" to the US economy !

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 4:49 PM, stevejg61a wrote:

    before you go touting how great it is in ND, remember theer are only 700,00 peopl ein the whole state and other than the oil boom (oil bubble - which they have had in the past as well) most of theeconomy there is based upon farming. They do not need a whole lot of people in the state. And before you movr there remember that farming and oil drilling seem to be tied to high illness rates.

    Check the weather reports on ND in the winter - how many of you will be able to tolerate that - without many women there?

    Finally before you claim it is a Republican "paradise" remember this - the state gets nby because of two importatnt socialistic institutions they run - a state mill and a state bank - yes the state runs two major businesses and to top it all off, they were put in by the Republican Party back in the Progressive Era and if the state were to be asked to give them up, you better believe they would tell you no, we won't.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 6:40 PM, joe598 wrote:

    Have you noticed a theme,democratic states with millions of darkies sitting on the porch

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 8:22 PM, taug99 wrote:

    There are many more than 2 states where unemployment is growing.

    And the one state where jobs are being created is Colorado.

    POT SALES PEOPLE WANTED.

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 9:15 PM, Southernsky77 wrote:

    I'm live in Alabama, born here grew up in San Diego, CA. Came back South at 24 now 47. There used to be SO many jobs here until thanks to NAFTA all the manufacturing and ALL the textile industry moved to Pakistan and Mexico. I've been through plant closings, and it is not fun packing the places up and shipping everything to other counties. Now in regards to the gentleman's about comment about racial issues still the same here is bull! There may be more like the white and black people banned together on account our small town has been INVADED by Mexicans (illegal about to be citizens) taking all the jobs on account they ALWAYS work cheap, which brings down pay and standard of living people here were accustomed to. Then you go to Walmart to get grocerys and can barley afford a few things but the Mexicans and their 5 kids have a whole CART full! What the heck????

  • Report this Comment On April 23, 2013, at 9:17 PM, Southernsky77 wrote:

    I live in Alabama. Sorry, iPhone likes to mispell eberything! Lol

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