Midyear job-growth numbers by state are out: business expert explains trends

Research professor Lee McPheters

Americans are closely watching the job market as a key sign of whether the economy is really improving. Midyear job-growth numbers for each state are out, and an expert from the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University is offering his insight on the trends.

“The number of new jobs added only from May to June in the U.S. does not look very good (18,000), but if you compare this June to last June, then we’re looking much better,” explains research professor Lee McPheters, director of the JPMorgan Chase Economic Outlook Center at the W. P. Carey School of Business and editor of the Western Blue Chip Economic Forecast newsletter. “Nationally, we’ve added 1.2 million jobs since last June, an increase of 0.9 percent.”

McPheters says a total of 40 states added jobs year-over-year, based on non-seasonally adjusted payroll employment figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, North Dakota saw a jobs-increase rate of almost 5 percent (4.8 percent) from June 2010 to June 2011. It was followed by Wyoming, Vermont, Texas and Utah, each with gains of more than 2 percent. North Dakota has ranked first among all states in the rate of job growth for the past three years.

The worst-performing states are Alabama, Georgia and Maryland, which each lost at least a half-percent of their jobs year-over-year. Kansas has suffered the longest, losing jobs year-over-year for 32 consecutive months.

“The brightest spot in the jobs-growth picture is health care, the strongest employment sector in the nation right now,” says McPheters. “The economy added 365,900 new health care jobs year-over-year, a 2.2-percent increase.”

The manufacturing sector is also doing well, according to McPheters’ analysis. Four states added 5 percent or more manufacturing jobs. Those states are Oklahoma, Alaska, Michigan and South Dakota. Nationally, the U.S. economy added 176,000 manufacturing jobs year-over-year in June, an increase of 1.5 percent. McPheters says we’re currently seeing the longest period of manufacturing expansion in the United States since 1998.

“The greatest drag on employment expansion is the government sector,” adds McPheters. “The nation lost 3 percent of its government jobs year-over-year – 668,000 at all levels, including national, state and local.”

Federal government jobs are down in all 50 states. Half of the eliminated government jobs from June 2010 to June 2011 were at the federal level, with the sharpest percentage decline happening in New York (23 percent) and the largest absolute number (36,900) lost in California.

Twenty-two states lost jobs at the state-government level, and 40 states lost jobs at the local level. Nevada, Michigan, Iowa, New Jersey, Arizona and South Carolina lost more than 3 percent of their local government jobs over the past 12 months.

McPheters’ full job-growth report is available at http://knowledge.wpcarey.asu.edu/article.cfm?articleid=2016, with additional statistics at http://wpcarey.asu.edu/bluechip/jobgrowth