Special Report

States Adding the Most Jobs Since the Great Recession

town of east greenwich, Rhode Island
Source: Thinkstock

40. Rhode Island
> 10-yr. employment change: +0.9%
> Employment change: 4,300
> Dec. unemployment: 5.0%
> Total employment: 492,100

During the Great Recession, Rhode Island was hit especially hard — home prices declined more than in most states in the region, and more jobs were lost. Still, the state appears to have largely recovered. Rhode Island’s unemployment rate of 5% is slightly higher than the national unemployment rate of 4.7%, but the state’s rate is nevertheless a 1.1 percentage points improvement from a decade prior, when unemployment was 6.1%. Only four states had a larger unemployment rate decline over that period. The state’s construction industry, however, does not appear to have fully recovered, as about 5,600 fewer people are employed in the industry compared to 2007.

Las Vegas, Nevada Eiffel Tower
Source: Thinkstock

39. Nevada
> 10-yr. employment change: +1.1%
> Employment change: 14,100
> Dec. unemployment: 5.1%
> Total employment: 1,306,000

Nevada employment increased by about 14,000 over the past decade. This represents a 1.1% increase, a much smaller rise than in the vast majority of states. Compared to ten years ago, the state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 5.1%, 12th highest of all states. Dragging down the state’s employment growth has been the construction sector, which shed nearly 50,000 jobs since 2007. Most of these losses were the result of the subprime mortgage crisis, which hit Nevada’s housing market particularly hard and from which the state is still recovering. The state’s construction sector has contracted by 37.5% compared to 2007. A decade ago, more than 10% of the state’s total employment was in construction, but currently the sector represents only 6.2% of the Nevada’s employment.

Phoenix, Arizona
Source: Thinkstock

38. Arizona
> 10-yr. employment change: +1.4%
> Employment change: 37,600
> Dec. unemployment: 4.8%
> Total employment: 2,717,000

Arizona’s economy has added roughly 37,600 jobs since 2007, just a 1.4% increase. This relatively modest employment growth has not been enough meet growing demand for jobs. The share of the state’s labor force looking for work increased from 4.4% in December 2007 to 4.8% in December 2016, one of the larger unemployment rate increases of any state over the same 10-year period.

States with strong job growth tend to have a more highly-educated population than those with more modest growth. In Arizona, only 27.7% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, a smaller share than the 30.6% of adults nationwide who do.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Source: Thinkstock

37. Pennsylvania
> 10-yr. employment change: +1.5%
> Employment change: 88,600
> Dec. unemployment: 5.6%
> Total employment: 5,900,100

Job growth in Pennsylvania over the past decade trails that of most states. There are 5.9 million people working in the Keystone State today, up only 1.5% from 10 years ago. While job growth has been modest, incomes among workers in Pennsylvania have increased somewhat faster than than incomes nationwide. A decade ago, the typical household in Pennsylvania earned only $48,576 a year, slightly less than the $50,740 national median income. Today, the state’s median annual household income of $55,702 is in line with the national $55,775 median income.

While the typical Pennsylvania household earns about as much as the national median, serious financial hardship is less common in the state than it is nationwide. Only 13.2% of Pennsylvanians live in poverty, slightly below the 14.7% national poverty rate.

Kansas City Skyline, Missouri
Source: Thinkstock

36. Missouri
> 10-yr. employment change: +1.6%
> Employment change: 45,400
> Dec. unemployment: 4.4%
> Total employment: 2,847,800

Missouri’s total employment has increased by a relatively modest 1.6% since 2007. The biggest contributor to the state’s job growth appears to have been the education, healthcare, and social assistance sector, which added about 79,000 to total employment between 2007 and 2015. While employment in other sectors depends on regional economies, education and government jobs tend to increase to meet growing population demands. However, even as the state added significantly to its education and healthcare workforce, the number of public administration jobs fell by about 4,000.