States Showing Improvement: Unemployment Rates & Job Numbers

Published on Jan 26, 2011

Updated on Nov 3, 2022

Written by Emsi Burning Glass

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Earlier this week the latest unemployment-by-state numbers came out, and it wasn’t all bad. From December 2009 to December 2010, five states — Michigan, Alabama, South Carolina, Illinois, and Washington, D.C. — saw decreases of more than 1.5% in the

ir unemployment rates.

In this data spotlight, we take a quick look at these five states and their key labor market data from 2009-2010 to see what, if anything, the drop in unemployment means for job growth.

As shown in our first table, only two of the five states, D.C. and South Carolina, saw actual job increases during this period. The table shows growth/decline from 2009-10 among all the broadest-level (two-digit) industries.

Illustration by Mark Beauchamp

Note: Data in parentheses indicates negative numbers.

Region2009 Jobs2010 JobsChange% Change2010 EPWWashington DC799,145810,58611,4411%$95,086South Carolina2,418,3512,421,9863,6350%$41,147Alabama2,471,6922,448,808(22,884)(1%)$44,055Michigan4,970,9744,938,031(32,943)(1%)$48,043Illinois7,244,4067,182,411(61,995)(1%)$54,008Source: EMSI Complete Employment - 4th Quarter 2010

So if these state’s jobless rates have declined, why aren’t they experiencing more job growth? Much of it is related to how out-of-work people are counted. Here’s an explanation from the Wall Street Journal, using Michigan as an example:

But, according to the state agency that monitors employment, the December decline “primarily reflected a reduction in the number of unemployed individuals seeking jobs.” In fact, the state’s total employment level hasn’t budged much since July, after rising steadily in the first half of the year, Michigan’s Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth said.

The following tables shows how these states fared in individual industries. The table displays job change from 2009-10. To illustrate, educational services in Michigan increased by nearly 5,000 jobs in the last year — while government jobs decreased by almost 11,000.

DescriptionAlabamaWashington DCSouth CarolinaIllinoisMichiganEducational Services3,3211,351(516)2,8584,985Administrative and Support and Waste Management and Remediation Services3,2747,2469,25513,45318,367Government1,2857,4627,065(4,554)(10,863)Mining, Quarrying, and Oil and Gas Extraction473(4)221,2101,953Accommodation and Food Services320214(3,634)(7,102)(1,516)Utilities135(144)(381)(132)(314)Health Care and Social Assistance(408)(402)2,59314,2717,179Other Services (except Public Administration)(518)(1,156)1,026(24)(1,292)Arts, Entertainment, and Recreation(646)(19)(722)(363)(6,321)Management of Companies and Enterprises(687)119264(3,176)(1,240)Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting(773)(1)(105)(546)283Wholesale Trade(864)3482,281(5,289)(794)Transportation and Warehousing(1,072)(6)(2,014)(1,783)(3,094)Retail Trade(1,694)283(3,850)(499)(7,084)Information(1,806)(413)(39)(2,711)(4,369)Real Estate and Rental and Leasing(2,317)(214)1,391(3,758)(7,535)Manufacturing(3,476)(26)(4,072)(15,739)2,141Finance and Insurance(4,593)(618)1,474(6,681)(7,655)Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services(4,682)(1,694)5,106(10,139)(2,190)Construction(8,159)(883)(11,509)(31,292)(13,587)Total(22,884)11,4413,635(61,995)(32,943)Source: EMSI Complete Employment - 4th Quarter 2010

A few takeaways:

  • It’s worth noting that every state included here experienced substantial growth in administrative and support and waste management and remediation services. Among occupations that staff this industry, janitors/cleaners, landscaping/groundskeeping workers, and security guards were the fastest-growing jobs in most of the five states.

  • While Illinois and Michigan saw big declines in government employment, DC and South Carolina saw big spikes.

  • Conversely, while health care and social assistance employment grew in Illinois and Michigan, it declined in DC and Alabama.

  • South Carolina was also the only state among these five that had a decline (-516 jobs) in educational services.

The data and state-by-state comparison comes from EMSI’s Analyst. For more, contact us.