Job Growth and Policy in the States

By at 18 November, 2018, 9:27 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

The latest state employment report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics pointed to nonfarm employment in October being up in 9 states, and effectively unchanged in 41 states. However, over the past year, 36 states added jobs, with 14 basically unchanged.

So, which states were the top gainers?

During October versus September, the largest percentage gains in employment came in South Carolina (+0.9%), Alaska (+0.7%), North Carolina (+0.6%), New Hampshire (+0.6%), Washington (+0.4%), and New Jersey (+0.4%).

Over the longer stretch of October 2017 to October 2018, 15 states experienced percent gains of greater than 2 percent.  Among those 15 states, as noted in the table below, 12 ranked in the top half of states on the Small Business Policy Index 2018: Ranking the States on Policy Measures and Costs Impacting Small Business and Entrepreneurship, which is based on 55 policy measures. In fact, 8 of the 15 states ranked among the top 10 on the Index.


Rank State Percent Change in Nonfarm Employment, Oct. 2017 to Oct. 2018 Ranking on Small Business Policy Index 2018
1 Nevada 3.4 1
2t Utah 3.3 10
2t Washington 3.3 7
4t Arizona 3.1 6
4t Texas 3.1 2
6t Colorado 2.7 13
6t Florida 2.7 5
6t New Mexico 2.7 23
9 Oregon 2.5 42
10t New Hampshire 2.3 30
10t North Carolina 2.3 17
12t Georgia 2.1 20
12t Idaho 2.1 26
12t Ohio 2.1 9
12t Wyoming 2.1 4


Of course, what this tells us is that when it comes to job creation, the policy climate in each state matters. While it is not the only indicator that affects business and investor decisions, it certainly is important. In the end, policymakers need to be providing a light tax and regulatory touch to help spur entrepreneurship, business growth and investment, and employment growth.


Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.

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