States are laying off workers like it is Halloween and they are getting candy for every worker laid off. More than almost anything else, states are now holding back our recovery.
State employment and unemployment data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the continued lack of momentum in the national labor market is translating into sluggish job growth and slowly rising unemployment for the majority of states.
Job growth throughout the states over the preceding three-month period (April 2012 to July 2012) was mixed, with 32 states and the District of Columbia adding jobs and 18 states experiencing job loss. However, even the job growth in states that gained jobs over this period was not strong enough to prevent increases in the unemployment rate for all but six of these states (California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah) and the District of Columbia.
Three states—California, Nevada and Rhode Island—continue to have unemployment rates above 10 percent. The number of states with unemployment rates between 9 percent and 9.9 percent rose from five states in June to seven in July.
While nearly all states have added jobs and reduced unemployment over the past year, the most recent figures underscore the risk of letting the nation’s economy slip back into neutral. Without action at the national level to accelerate lagging growth, state policymakers will face an uphill battle to bring down unemployment levels.