November Jobs Data and the States

By at 18 December, 2020, 3:39 pm

by Raymond J. Keating-

When the economy hits an economic storm and rough waters, there’s naturally many ups and downs. We get some data that offers hope, and other data that makes clear the troubles being confronted.

The latest state jobs data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics provides a sober reminder of the problems we face when it comes to employment.

Two trends among the numbers are particularly worth considering.

First, nonfarm payroll employment numbers are sobering across all of the states, but for one. Except for Idaho, along with Utah, nonfarm employment was down markedly in percentage terms in November 2020 compared to a year earlier.

While Idaho’s employment actually rose by 0.47 percent and Utah was only down by 0.01 percent, all other 48 states were down notably from November 2019 to November 2020, ranging as low as a decline of 15.2 percent in Hawaii. New York was next worse at -10 percent, followed by Michigan at -9.4 percent, Massachusetts -9.2 percent, Vermont at -8.6 percent, Delaware -8.1 percent, New Hampshire -8 percent, Nevada -7.7 percent, New Jersey -7.7 percent, California -7.6 percent, and Maine -7.5 percent.

But there’s more. Consider also the fact that the labor force declined in 37 states from November 2019 to November 2020. So, that means that just about three-quarters of the states have seen a net exodus of people from the labor force, that is, they are neither employed nor looking for work.

The largest declines in the labor force in percentage terms from November 2019 to November 2020 occurred in Iowa at -7.7 percent, Massachusetts -6.7 percent, Vermont -5.2 percent, Illinois -4.6 percent, West Virginia -4.2 percent, New York -4.1 percent, Kentucky -4 percent, Maryland -3.9 percent, Virginia -3.6 percent, New Mexico -3.5 percent, New Hampshire -3.4 percent, Missouri – 3.3 percent, Pennsylvania -3.2 percent, and California -3.1 percent.

These are sobering trends that point to the need for policymakers at the federal, state and local levels to establish incentives for entrepreneurship and private investment – the engines of economic, income and employment growth – by reducing governmental costs, barriers and obstacles, such as via tax and regulatory relief.

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


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