Special Report

States Adding the Most Jobs Since the Great Recession

Kellly, Wyoming Cowboys working
Source: Thinkstock

50. Wyoming
> 10-yr. employment change: -5.2%
> Employment change: -15,400
> Dec. unemployment: 4.8%
> Total employment: 278,700

Total employment declined in only seven states over the past decade, and in no state was the decline as severe as in Wyoming. State employment fell by more than 15,000, or by 5.2% — more than double the next largest percent decline. The state’s unemployment rate, as might be expected, increased by 2.0 percentage points — a larger increase than in all states other than New Mexico. The state’s construction sector shed about 4,500 employed workers, the most of any sector in the state.

While the agriculture, forestry, fishing, and mining sector, which includes energy extraction, added jobs over the decade, this trend may reverse soon. The state, which produced 42% of the nation’s coal in 2015, has recently shed jobs as energy prices have bottomed.

Mississippi, ditch boat pushing barge
Source: Thinkstock

49. Mississippi
> 10-yr. employment change: -2.3%
> Employment change: -26,700
> Dec. unemployment: 5.6%
> Total employment: 1,133,600

The number of employed workers in Mississippi has decreased by 26,700 since the end of 2007. The state’s 2.3% decade-long employment decline is the second largest decrease in the country over the same time period. As in many other states, the fastest declining industries in Mississippi have been construction and manufacturing. Nationwide, the construction sector has been hit by the housing crisis, which slowed new home construction to a crawl. Manufacturing was hurt by increasing reliance on automation and outsourcing to other countries, which has cut costs for companies but decimated jobs.

Despite the dwindling number of working adults in the state, the share of Mississippi’s labor force looking for work is 0.3 percentage points lower today than it was 10 years ago, as even more people gave up looking for work altogether. Still, at 5.6%, Mississippi’s unemployment rate is higher than in all but six other states.

Shiprock, the great volcanic rock mountain in desert plane of New Mexico, USA
Source: Thinkstock

48. New Mexico
> 10-yr. employment change: -2.2%
> Employment change: -18,600
> Dec. unemployment: 6.6%
> Total employment: 830,500

New Mexico has shed some 18,600 jobs since 2007, a 2.2% employment decline. Over the same time period, the state’s unemployment rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, the largest 10-year increase of any state. Today, some 6.6% of New Mexico’s labor force is out of a job, a far higher share than the 4.7% national unemployment rate. As jobs have become increasingly scarce, serious financial hardship has become all the more common in New Mexico. The share of state residents living in poverty increased from 18.1% in 2007 to 20.4% in 2015.

Source: Thinkstock

47. Alabama
> 10-yr. employment change: -1.9%
> Employment change: -38,700
> Dec. unemployment: 6.2%
> Total employment: 1,976,200

Alabama is one of only seven states to report overall employment decline over the last 10 years. As was the case across the country, the construction sector shed more jobs than any other industry in Alabama. Nationwide, residential construction in particular was hit hard by the recession. Only 553,900 new home construction projects began in 2009, a staggering decline from 1.4 million in 2007. Though, new home construction has recovered somewhat nationwide since hitting bottom in 2009, in Alabama, there are 42,264 fewer people employed in the construction industry since 2007. As was also the case across the country, job losses in the construction industry were partially offset by employment gains in the educational services, health care, and social assistance industry.

Bridgeport, Connecticut
Source: Thinkstock

46. Connecticut
> 10-yr. employment change: -1.6%
> Employment change: -27,300
> Dec. unemployment: 4.4%
> Total employment: 1,678,000

Connecticut lost more employed workers in the past 10 years than any other state in the Northeast. There are about 1.7 million people employed in the state today, 27,300 fewer than in 2007. Unlike most states that lost jobs in the past decade, educational attainment is high in Connecticut. Some 38.3% of adults in the state have at least a bachelor’s degree, a far higher share than the 30.6% of adults nationwide.

The state’s manufacturing sector employment has has shed over 28,000 since 2007, the most of any industry in the state.

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