The States That Recovered Most (and Least) from the Recession

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31. Texas
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.6 percentage points (tied-30th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 8.2%
> Current unemployment: 6.6% (tied-16th lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 3.3% (4th highest)

Texas has added more than 570,000 jobs during the recent oil boom, according to the Dallas News. Since January 2010, the state has added more than 60,000 jobs in the mining and logging sector alone, which includes oil extraction and processing. The energy sector has kept unemployment from dipping too much and the economy strong. Texas has been in the top five states for GDP growth in each of the past two years. While it has added more jobs than any other state in the country since November, the influx of new people into the workforce has kept unemployment from falling much. In some cities, unemployment is especially low. In the Midland metropolitan area, the unemployment rate was just 3.3% in October, the fifth-lowest rate of any metropolitan statistical area in the country.

32. Virginia
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.6 percentage points (tied-30th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 7.3%
> Current unemployment: 5.7% (tied-10th lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 0.3% (11th lowest)

Virginia’s labor force grew by 7.3% between November 2007 and October 2012, more than any other state in the nation except Texas. The state also added 178,000 jobs in that time, again more than any state but Texas. However, many workers still can’t find jobs. October’s unemployment rate of 5.7% remained closer to the state’s recession high of 7.3% than to its prerecession rate of 3.3% in November 2007. The outlook for job growth hinges on the resolution of the fiscal cliff issue in Washington because the state is home to numerous defense contractors, as well as federal military and intelligence installations. If Congress fails to reach a deal, the Defense Department — headquartered in Virginia at the Pentagon — may need to make as much as $500 billion in cuts, which are expected to include many jobs.

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33. Rhode Island
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.5 percentage points
> Peak unemployment: 11.9%
> Current unemployment: 10.4% (2nd highest)
> GDP growth 2011: 0.8% (19th lowest)

Just prior to the recession, in November 2007, Rhode Island had the fourth-highest unemployment rate in the country at 5.8%, while the national rate was 4.7% at the time. Two years later, the state’s unemployment rate had increased to 11.9%, still the fourth-highest rate in the U.S. As of October of this year, the rate had fallen only slightly to 10.4%, the second-highest in the country behind only Nevada. One of the worst repercussions of the recession in Rhode Island has been the effect on the state’s housing market. Home prices fell by more than 25% between the second quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of this year, and they are projected to continue falling through the end of this year.

34. Louisiana
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.3 percentage points (tied-34th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 7.9%
> Current unemployment: 6.6% (tied-16th lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 0.5% (15th lowest)

According to a report released by the Brookings Institution, no metropolitan area has recovered more than the hard-hit city of New Orleans. The state as a whole, however, has not been so lucky. During the recession, the number of unemployed people in Louisiana more than doubled to 164,302 in 2010, and despite shrinking somewhat since, that number is still far above prerecession levels, even as the state’s economy has been improving. Louisiana led the nation in GDP growth in 2010, at more than 9%. However, in 2011, it grew 0.5%, which was less than the national rate of 1.5%.

35. Maryland
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.3 percentage points (tied-34th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 8.0%
> Current unemployment: 6.7% (19th lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 0.9% (21st lowest)

The housing market crash hit Maryland harder than any other state in the Northeast. Between the second quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of this year, the median home price in the state fell by 27.2%. In the past year, while home prices began to recover nationwide, Maryland’s housing market continued to dip and is projected to decline at least through the midpoint of next year. The state’s job market has also been slow to recover. Going into the recession, Maryland had an unemployment rate of 3.3%, the eighth lowest in the country. The rate peaked at 8% in December 2009, and remained at that level until March 2010, and has only fallen back to 6.7% to date. However, part of the small decline in the state’s unemployment rate has to do with the large increase in the state’s labor force — the number of people employed in the state has actually almost returned to prerecession levels.

36. Iowa
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.2 percentage points
> Peak unemployment: 6.3%
> Current unemployment: 5.1% (4th lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 1.9% (12th highest)

Outside of the Dakotas, Iowa may be the state that was affected the least by the recession. Unemployment in the state peaked in August 2009 at just 6.3% – a lower rate than many states currently have even after recovering many jobs following the end of the recession. The state currently has the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and Iowa City’s unemployment rate of 3.4% is the sixth lowest of any U.S. metropolitan statistical area. The state’s agricultural-based economy flourished due to favorable commodity prices, but even with the stabilizing force of agriculture and a relatively untouched housing market, Iowa is still short more than 50,000 jobs compared to its prerecession levels.

37. Nebraska
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.1 percentage points (tied-37th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 4.9%
> Current unemployment: 3.8% (2nd lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 0.2% (9th lowest)

Nebraska’s unemployment rate peaked at just 4.9% in July 2009 and was just 3.8% in October 2012. Between November 2007 and October, the total number of employed workers in Nebraska rose 2.6%, among the highest increases in the nation. The state’s housing market was also less impacted by the recession than the rest of the U.S. as home prices fell just 2.5% between the second quarters of 2007 and 2012, better than the majority of states. Recently, the state was hit by a drought that’s affected much of the U.S. This has led to price increases for both farmers and customers, as well as to a decline in quality for nearly all crops produced by the state’s farming sector.

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38. North Dakota
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.1 percentage points (tied-37th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 4.2%
> Current unemployment: 3.1% (the lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 7.6% (the highest)

As of October, North Dakota was the only state in the nation with an unemployment rate that was not higher than its pre-recession rate in November 2007. The state’s unemployment rate peaked at just 4.2% in March 2009, and from there declined to 3.1% in October — the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S. In 2009, the state’s GDP grew by 2%, the third-highest increase in the nation. In 2010 and 2011, the state’s economy grew by 9% and 7.6%, respectively, with the latter again the highest in the nation. A major reason the state withstood the recession well was the increase in oil production through fracking in the Bakken shale, which made North Dakota the nation’s fourth-largest oil producer last year. Earlier this month, the U.S. Energy Information Administration announced that oil production in the state for September had increased by over a quarter of a million barrels per day from September 2011.

39. Alaska
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.1 percentage points (tied-37th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 8.2%
> Current unemployment: 7.1% (25th lowest)
> GDP growth 2011: 2.6% (5th highest)

The recession had far less of an impact on jobs in Alaska than in other states. From November 2007 to October 2012, the size of the state’s labor force rose by 3% — among the highest increases in the nation. In that time, the number of residents employed in Alaska rose by 2% — the state was just one of eight with an actual increase in the number of employed workers in that time. As of October, Alaskans were also among the best paid workers in the U.S., earning an average of $917 a week. But the state’s economy is also highly dependent on the oil industry, from which tax revenues are falling. “As the price of oil declines, production from aging North Slope fields drops, and oil companies take advantage of existing tax credits,” reports the Anchorage Daily News.

40. Colorado
> Unemployment decline from recession peak: 1.1 percentage points (tied-37th highest)
> Peak unemployment: 9.0%
> Current unemployment: 7.9% (22nd highest)
> GDP growth 2011: 1.9% (14th highest)

Colorado lost 115,000 jobs between November 2007 and March 2010, when the state’s unemployment rate peaked at 9%. As of October, unemployment remained elevated at 7.9%. The state had recovered only 26,000 of the lost jobs after unemployment peaked. However, some industries have recovered well. Over the 12 months ending in October, manufacturing employment increased by 3.7%, and construction employment rose by 4.7%. According to the Colorado Springs Business Journal, the state has allocated $100 million in funds for capital projects, which should help sustain and grow construction employment.