The United States has added more than 12 million jobs since the spring of 2011. Since then, the unemployment rate has fallen from 9.1% to 5.0% — close to an eight-year low.
The vast majority of states have added jobs during April 2011 through April 2016. Most states added at least 100,000 positions. Delaware and Nevada reported a 13% employment growth, and Utah a 14.5% growth, the fastest job growth rates in the country. Despite the generally robust job growth, employment has actually declined in five states. West Virginia lost roughly 11,800 jobs over the last five years, a 1.6% drop.
A state’s labor force — those who are employed or are actively seeking work — tends to grow or decline roughly in parallel with the availability of jobs. Utah and Delaware, the states that added the most jobs, also reported the biggest relative increases in total labor force.
The relationship between the number of jobs and the labor force is not one-to-one. Mississippi’s employment declined by 0.6%, but its labor force shrank by more than 5%, indicating that many people who looked for work have given up and left the labor force. The number of jobs increased by approximately 13% in Nevada over these five years, the third largest increase. On the other hand, the state’s labor force expanded by just 4.4%, the 14th largest growth, likely indicating that many looking for a job found one.
> Employment increase:4.4%
> Number of jobs April 2011: 5.88 million (6th most)
> Number of jobs April 2016: 6.14 million (6th most)
> Unemployment rate April 2016: 5.2% (12th highest)
> Industry contributing most to increase: Education and health services
As Nevada’s jobs increased much faster than its labor force did, unemployment improved by 7.1 percentage points, the fastest improvement in the country during that time. In general, states where employment grew the most tended to have the greatest improvements in unemployment, and vice versa.
To identify the states with the most and least job growth, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed states with the most significant changes in employment from April 2011 through April 2016. Unemployment rates, the size of the labor force, and employment levels are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), a monthly survey of households jointly administered by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and U.S. Census Bureau. Industry-specific growth rates for the same period are from the Current Employment Survey (CES), also from the BLS.