5 States Leading Employment Growth with These Top Industries

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

The U.S. job market, while having improved greatly since the recession, remains a challenge for many unemployed Americans. Some states have shown more promising employment opportunities than others in the last few years, according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, and looking specifically at the years of 2008 to 2012.

Regionally, the Great Lakes area and Far West are ranked worst in terms of employment growth, while the Southwest is doing well in that regard. The bottom five states are Maine, Oregon, New Mexico, Idaho, and Nevada, falling between -0.74 and -1.43 compound annual growth rate in total employment. The top five states are, in order, North Dakota, Texas, Alaska, and South Dakota, and New York — with North Dakota showing a compound annual growth rate of 3.46 between 2008 and 2012, while North Dakota shows a rate of 0.06. The only state that has, on average, not changed between the allotted time, is Florida.

Then, within each of the states with the highest growth, certain industries have shown greater full and part-time employment growth. North Dakota’s biggest bumps in employment are quite clearly stemming from its mining industry, with by far the greatest compound annual growth rates in the mining — more so in the oil and gas extraction industry than others — and in industries supporting mining activities more than in mining itself, with a CAGR of 42.80.

Texas saw its largest employment growth spread out over a number of industries, none of them towering too far above the rest. Securities, commodity contracts, and investments nabbed the top industry, over online information services, and South Dakota saw its highest CAGR there as well. For New York, online information services did win out in the end though, higher even than the motion picture and sound recording industries. Alaska’s top growing industry for employment between 2008 and 2012 was nursing and residential care facilities — its CAGR at 10.75.

Of course increases in employment in industries, tied with employment growth don’t necessarily mean a correlation with lower unemployment, especially considering population sizes in some of those states. That said, Nevada, the state with the lowest employment growth CAGR, showed the highest rate of unemployment in February 2012, at 11.9 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

North Dakota, with the highest employment growth CAGR showed the lowest unemployment rate at 2.9 percent, New York with an unemployment rate of 8.5 percent, Texas and Alaska at 7.1, and South Dakota at 4.3 — all relatively low rates compared to others in the United States, but still higher than states like Oklahoma, Iowa, Kansas, and Minnesota.

Comparing this to 2008′s unemployment data, it’s obvious that the state of the economy has changed. However, those states that have managed a low unemployment rate today, such as our top five employment growth states, seem to have retained employment levels they’d managed back then. South Dakota had an unemployment rate of 2.6 in February 2008, North Dakota was at 2.9, Texas at 4.3, Alaska at 6.2, and New York at 4.7 — though these numbers are less impressive when compared with considerably lower unemployment in other U.S. states.

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