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

Adam Levine-Weinberg
April 22, 2013

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 ha