I just looked at all of the unemployment statistics for the states from August 2011 to May 2012. It was interesting to see that 45 states had declining unemployment, three had an increase in unemployment and one stayed the same. In 2012, the top three states with the lowest unemployment (on both lists in the same order for both years) were North Dakota, 3.0%, Nebraska, 3.9% and South Dakota, 4.3%; the top three (2 out of 3 were still on the list in 2012) who had the highest unemployment were Nevada at 11.6%, Rhode Island at 11% and California at 10.8%. Texas unemployment rate declined from 8.5% in 2011 to 6.9% in 2012.
Of course a deeper dive into educational levels, types of jobs, and age groups brings the focus clearer as to what all these statistics mean. College grads with advanced degrees have the lowest unemployment rates (around 3.1%) followed by Bachelor’s degrees in the 25-65 age group – 4.5%; Bachelor’s degrees in the 20-24 age group shows a significant increase to 7.5% which gives us an idea of why recent grads are having such a hard time finding work.
The top states with the lowest unemployment didn’t have much of a population to start with – North Dakota had a population of only 630,000 – however, with the oil and manufacturing boom came the housing boom and coupled with low taxes and unemployment insurance, has become the place to find a job quickly. Nebraska’s cost of living is 11% below the U.S. average but the state has not had the rapid job expansion that North Dakota has had.
Texas seems to be the place to be these days in terms of job opportunities, and with the job market tightening up quite a bit in some areas and some job categories, companies are finding it more difficult to find those highly skilled individuals. However, with continued uncertainty about the economy here and abroad, companies are still choosing flexibility over full-time hiring. Project based assignments are on the rise, and unemployed professionals need to be flexible as well to take advantage of these opportunities.
Valerie Freeman is the founder and CEO of Texas based Freeman+Leonard, BravoTECH, and Imprimis Group, leading suppliers of staffing, recruiting, human resources and outsourcing services. She has built one of the largest independently owned staffing companies in Texas. Valerie was honored by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the 25 most influential women in business and named Women’s Business Enterprise of the Year by the Women’s Business Council of the Southwest. Valerie was also a recipient of the Athena Award by the Dallas Regional Chamber of Commerce, the “Real Girls, Real Women” Award from the Girl Scouts of NE Texas, “National Business Owner of the Year” by the National Association of Women Business Owners, and Ernst & Young’s “Entrepreneur of the Year”. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Houston where she was honored as a Distinguished Alum.