Job Openings by State May 2010: Up 7.6% Under Obama

We have updated the Best States for Job Openings.

Since January of 2009 when President Obama took office,  job openings by state as measured on Career Builder  have increased 7.6% to 252,884 from 235,059. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 9.9% in May of 2010 and 15.3 million people were unemployed.  While the increase is encouraging, job openings must increase much more to make a dent in the high number of unemployed.

Thirty six states have seen increases in job openings under Obama while 14 states have seen decreases.

Of the ten largest states, 9 have shown increases in the number of job openings.  Of these large states, North Carolina  was the Best State for Job Openings on Careerbuilder.  Job openings have increased 17.0% in North Carolina since Obama became President.   Illinois was the only large state to show a decrease in job openings since January of 2009.  Its job openings decreased 4.5%.   California has the most job openings on Careerbuilder yet its unemployment at 12.6% is the second highest in the nation.

The list of best and worst states for job openings follows.  Interestingly, some of the states with low unemployment such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont  have seen job openings shrink.

Best and Worst States for Job Openings 2010

Becker Blocked: Blow to Unionism

Craig Becker’s nomination to the National Labor Relations Board was blocked by the Senate today.  The vote was 52-33.  Sixty votes were needed to pass his nomination.  This is a blow to the Obama administration and the union movement as Becker was considered very pro union.  Politico today reported that the battle may not be over as Democrats and union leaders will be pressing President Obama to make a recess appointment.  See Senate Stops Craig Becker

Objection to Becker also stems from the opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act which if enacted would make it easier for unions to organize. Many senators are also concerned about the possible elimination of secret personal voting.  If the Obama adminstration is committed to job growth, it might want to reconsider these positions.  We have recently written on this.  See Does Increased Unionism lead to more Unemployment?

Stay tuned the battle is not over.  Just stalled for now.

State Unionism Rankings: Do Highly Unionized States have Higher Unemployment?

Union employment in the U.S. continued to shrink this past year.  Nationwide union participation stands at 12.3% which is a slight decline from 2008.

The BLS 2009 Annual Union Affiliation by Statesurvey was recently published.  It has brought increased attention to the union movement. Union policy will further be in the spotlight this week as the Senate wrestles with the nomination of Craig Becker, a clearly pro-union candidate, to the National Labor Review Board.  See GOP’s Senate Gain Clouds Prospect of Obama’s Labor Board Nominee.  In view of this upcoming debate, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at state unionization and employment.

Let’s take a look at state unionization.

New York is the most unionized state in the nation with 27.2% of its population working for a union.  More than 1 in four workers are represented by a union in New York.  Hawaii at 24.3% is the second most unionized state at 24.3%, followed by Alaska at 23.6%.  Washington, Michigan, and New Jersey are heavily unionized states with about 20% union participation rates.

The least unionized state is North Carolina at 4.4%.  Only one in 23 workers in North Carolina are represented by a union, a sharp difference as compared to New York.  Additional states with low union participation rates are Arkansas at 5.0%, Virginia at 5.4%, South Carolina at 5.4% and Georgia at 5.9%

Twenty seven states had decreased union participation in 2009 as compared with 2008.  States with low union participation rates generally became less so in 2009 and those states with union growth were primarily already highly unionized.  There are 22 states with right to work laws in the U.S.  Right to work laws generally do not require employees to pay fees or join a union even if voted in.

A look at union participation and unemployment shows states with high union participation rates are closely associated with higher unemployment.

The five Worst States for Employment in 2009 were Michigan, Rhode Island, Nevada, California and South Carolina.  All but South Carolina are highly unionized states.  The Worst States for Employment in 2009 generally were highly unionized states.

Worst States for Employment and Union Participation



The Best States for Employment in 2009 were North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas. All but Iowa have unionparticipation rates below the U.S. average and would be classified asstates with low unionization.  If you are looking for a job, look at states with low unionization.  They tend to have less unemployment. See  Best and Worst States for Jobs: Will Jobs Improve in 2010 for the rankings of all states by employment.  The list of Best States for Employment and Union Participation follows:

Best States for Employment and Union Participation

The list of Unionism by State follows:

Unionism by State

Union membership has been in a long term decline since 1983 when BLS first started measuring it in a consistent way.  Union participation was 20.1% of the working population in 1983.  It is now approximately 40% lower at 12.3%.  For the first time in 2009, the majority of union members now work for the government and not for private, for profit entities.  These state workers are on average paid significantly more than private industry.  Making it easier for government workers to unionize will only push labor costs higher and cost the taxpayers more.  Political leaders should be trying to keep these costs in check. (The average federal worker’s pay is $71,206 as compared to $40,331 in the private sector and is growing above inflation rates) The Obama administration’s labor policy approach creates a conflict with its responsibilities to protect the taxpayer. Increased unionization will increase our cost of government.  If the Obama administration is serious about job creation and deficit control, it may want to reconsider this approach.  Unions and job creation generally do not have a positive correlation.  Watch the news this week as it relates to Craig Becker.  It will have implications for jobs and deficits.

One Year Of Obama and Stimulus: Job Openings down 5.48% , Unemployment Up to 10%

It has been one year since President Obama took office and announced a stimulus bill that was to improve jobs.  The data suggests that the job market continued to deteriorate this past year.  Unemployment is up to 10% from 7.4%.  Job Openings are down 5.48%

Job Openings, as measured on, have not improved from one year ago.  Nationwide, job openings at January 31, 2010 were 5.48% lower than January 29, 2009.  Total job openings stand at 222,189 as compared to 235,059 last year, a decrease of 12,870.  37 States have lower job openings as compared to last year.



Best and Worst States has been tracking Job Openings by State for the past year and has reported on movements.  For some of our previouslinks see November 2009, Job Stimulus Not Working  , Job Openings September 2009 and last year’s Best and Worst States for Job Openings January 2009.  While the drops early in the year have appeared to stabilize, the level of job openings is not robust enough to suggest significant improvements in employment soon.

The Best State for Job Openings is Indiana as measured by growth.  Indiana had the largest gain in job openings, 887, up 17.4% from a year ago. Best States for Jobs also were Kentucky, Ohio and TennesseeFlorida and Ohio were the best large states for job openings.  They were the only 2 states of the Top Ten Employment States to show increases in openings.  13 States had increases in job openings from a year ago.

The Worst State for Jobs was California.  It has 3,667 less job openings from a year ago, a decrease of 14.18%.  California also has the fourth worst employment rate in the nation.  Unemployment in California is now at 12.4%, up 3.7% from a year ago.  California is struggling on many fronts and an increasing jobless population will not help it turn around.  For more on California see California Jobs Shrinking

Additional Worst States for Jobs  are Texas, Illinois,Massachusetts and Arizona.  They each had large job opening losses and double digit declines in percentage terms.

Another measure of job openings, the Conference Board’s Help Wanted On-Line Data Series is also indicating year over year decreases in job openings. The Conference Board Data for 2009 annual average job openings stands at 3,357,000, 1.1million below the 4,481,000 annual average for 2008.  More importantly their average job opening number for 2009 is 2.4 million below the 2007 average job opening number.  These are not good numbers.  On an encouraging note,the Conference Board reported positive improvement in job openings in New York, Washington, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and New Jersey.

All 50 states saw their unemployment rates increase in 2009.  See Unemployment by State 2009 for the entire 2009 list and unemployment changes from a year ago. Job openings must increase significantly nationwide if unemployment is to improve to acceptable levels. It is going to take some time for this to occur.


Job Openings by State January 2010


Largest State
California Continues to
Show Shrinking Job Openings

Texas Jobs Not Growing

Florida Shows Small Increase

Illinois Jobs Down 10.64%

37 States Have
Fewer Job Openings

2 of 10 Largest States
Show Small Increase

Indiana Best State for Job Opening Growth

Job Openings Do Not Suggest
Employment Improvements

Best and Worst States for Jobs: Will jobs improve in 2010?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released state unemployment for December 2009 today.  Every state in the U.S. saw its unemployment rate rise in 2009.

The Best State for Jobs and Employment in 2009 was North Dakota.  It had the lowest unemployment rate in the nation at 4.4%.  Its unemployment rate increased by 1.1% in 2009.  South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas were also Top States for Jobs and Employment.

The Worst State for Jobs and Employment in 2009 was Michigan.  Its unemployment ended the year at 14.6%, an increase of 4.4% in 2009.  21 states and D.C. saw their unemployment ranks increase by 3% or more in 2009.  2009 was a very bad year for those seeking employment.  Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, California and D.C. all were Worst States for Jobs and Unemployment in 2009.  They all have unemployment rates of 12% or higher.

Minnesota and North Dakota had the smallest unemployment increases in 2009 with increases of only 0.8%. The Worst States for Unemployment Increases were West Virginia and Nevada which had increases of 4.6% in unemployment.  The list of Best and Worst States for Jobs and Employment is below.  It is presented from best to worst based on year over year changes.  Politically, these are very poor numbers for the Obama administration.  With the large health care bill off the table for now, let’s hope businesses will become a little more willing to hire in 2010.

Best and Worst States for Jobs

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Health Care Stopped!!! Jobs will be front and center.

The massive health care bill fiasco is over.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi today told the world “In its present form without any changes I don’t think it’s possible to pass the Senate bill in the House.”  Health care as sold by the Democrats is over.  She further commented on next steps with an insightful, “We’re not in a big rush.”

When we posted the results of the first poll showing Scott Brown in the lead  on January 10, the mainstream media still was not ready to get behind the idea of a possible Brown victory in Massachusetts.  It was not until mid-week when some more traditional polling organizations showed similar race tightness that the media explosion took off.  The Massachusetts vote became a national referendum on President Obama and his policies.

While the bill was unpopular with the majority of Americans and swept in Brown, it was also unpopular with many state legislatures and governors.  They viewed it as a major usurpation of states rights. More importantly,  it was filled with unfunded mandates that would put even more pressures on state’s budgets.  Look for the Democrats and Republicans now to quickly change the focus to jobs.  Let’s hope they do no more harm to a tepid recovery.

The Department of Labor reported an increase in jobless claims today.  The 4 week average of jobless claims for week ending January 16, 2010 was 448,250.  Last year the 4 week average was 526,500, a reduction of 78,250 from a year ago.  While there is talk of improvement in the jobs market, the data supporting such a claim is sketchy.  The 14.8% reduction in claims from a year ago, while positive, is still a very high number from historical perspectives.  It is associated with very poor labor environments.  With health care dead, businesses will have one less risk and expense wildcard to deal with.  It will be a while before the job engine gets going.

The BLS will publish year end state unemployment rates for 2009 tomorrow.  Check back for the list of Best States for Jobs in 2009.

Source:  Department of Labor 2010

Best States for Jobs September 2009, 48 States See Opening Decreases

We ran our September 2009 Best and Worst States for Job openings.  Job Openings dropped an alarming 6.2% on September 30 as compared to July 31.  This is particularly discouraging as we had seen our only increase in job openings this year in July.  This reversal ratifies the year long downward trend.  We develop our analysis from data listed by the nation’s largest job posting service  It is a good proxy for job openings nationwide.

Job Openings nationwide shrank in September to 217,040 from 231,370 in July, a drop of 14,330 job openings.

48 States saw jobs shrink.  Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana saw the biggest percentage job opening lossesKentucky Jobs, with an increase of only 180 job openings. and Utah Jobs, up 30, were the Top States for Jobs and the only 2 states in the nation that showed improvement since July 31.

California Jobs shrank the most numerically with an 1197 loss at September 30. Texas Jobs, Florida Jobs and Pennsylvania Jobs showed large losses in numbers in September.  ( I will post analysis of Job Opening Losses during the Obama Administration after unemployment numbers are released for September)

The list of Best and Worst States for Jobs as of September 2009 follows:

30-Sep 31-Jul +/- % Change
1 California 22253 23450 -1197 -5.10%
2 Texas 18219 19373 -1154 -5.96%
3 Florida 14072 14927 -855 -5.73%
4 New York 12410 12667 -257 -2.03%
5 Illinois 11243 11747 -504 -4.29%
6 Pennsylvania 10407 11193 -786 -7.02%
7 New Jersey 7901 7938 -37 -0.47%
8 Ohio 8171 8286 -115 -1.39%
9 Virginia 7162 7547 -385 -5.10%
10 North Carolina 6486 6860 -374 -5.45%
11 Maryland 5928 6128 -200 -3.26%
12 Georgia 5824 6470 -646 -9.98%
13 Arizona 5357 5701 -344 -6.03%
14 Massachusetts 5261 5269 -8 -0.15%
15 Michigan 5177 5443 -266 -4.89%
16 Washington 4407 4940 -533 -10.79%
17 Indiana 5282 5589 -307 -5.49%
18 Missouri 4518 5109 -591 -11.57%
19 Colorado 3815 3937 -122 -3.10%
20 Tennessee 4627 4862 -235 -4.83%
21 Connecticut 3893 4271 -378 -8.85%
22 Wisconsin 3855 4816 -961 -19.95%
23 Minnesota 3494 3754 -260 -6.93%
24 South Carolina 3239 3470 -231 -6.66%
25 Kansas 2816 3281 -465 -14.17%
26 Louisiana 2898 3067 -169 -5.51%
27 Kentucky 3468 3285 183 5.57%
28 Iowa 2268 2460 -192 -7.80%
29 Alabama 2352 2883 -531 -18.42%
30 Oklahoma 2115 2339 -224 -9.58%
31 Nevada 1718 1864 -146 -7.83%
32 Oregon 1808 1986 -178 -8.96%
33 Mississippi 1475 1684 -209 -12.41%
34 New Mexico 1435 1468 -33 -2.25%
35 Utah 1370 1340 30 2.24%
36 Arkansas 1292 1557 -265 -17.02%
37 Nebraska 1135 1139 -4 -0.35%
38 Delaware 996 1030 -34 -3.30%
39 Alaska 659 1058 -399 -37.71%
40 Hawaii 668 748 -80 -10.70%
41 West Virginia 832 914 -82 -8.97%
42 New Hampshire 671 705 -34 -4.82%
43 Rhode Island 633 722 -89 -12.33%
44 South Dakota 497 664 -167 -25.15%
45 Idaho 741 813 -72 -8.86%
46 Vermont 600 608 -8 -1.32%
47 North Dakota 299 465 -166 -35.70%
48 Maine 509 539 -30 -5.57%
49 Montana 458 585 -127 -21.71%
50 Wyoming 326 419 -93 -22.20%
Entire U.S. 217040 231370 -14330 -6.19%

Will California’s Tax Proposal do any good?

California has always had a wild streak.  This week California’s new tax proposal reinforced that image.

The Commission on the New 21st Century Economy  issued its report this week on a radical new tax structure for California.  Like all political taxing plans it has its good and bad aspects.  It did, however, increase discussion about what California needs to do to become an attractive state for business and individuals.

Here are the recommendations of the Commission: (My comments are in red)

  • Reduce Personal Income Tax (PIT) for every taxpayer – Reduce the number of tax brackets from six to two. The new tax rate would be 2.75 percent for taxable income up to $56,000 for joint filers ($28,000 for single) and 6.5 percent for taxable income above that amount. These changes would retain the PIT’s progressive nature but reduce income tax rates for all taxpayers. The proposal would reduce the amount of income tax paid by 29 percent.  (This is Good)
  •  Eliminate the corporation tax and minimum tax – Eliminate the corporate tax, which is currently at 8.84 percent. The $800 minimum franchise tax should also be eliminated. (This is Good)
  •  Eliminate the state general purpose sales tax – Eliminate the current 5 percent state sales tax, with the exception of the sales tax on gas and diesel fuels which would continue to be dedicated to transportation. Elimination of the sales tax would phase in over five years. (This is Good)
  • Establish a business net receipts tax (BNRT) – Establish a new tax, not to exceed 4 percent, applied to the net receipts of businesses. Small businesses with less than $500,000 in gross annual receipts would be exempt from this tax. This tax would have a much broader base than the sales tax (since it would apply not only to goods but also to services and to sales into the state from businesses located outside the state) and, unlike the sales tax, be deductible against federal taxes. (This is very very Bad)
  •  Create an independent tax dispute forum – This forum would provide taxpayers with a forum for resolving disputes with the state. (This is Good)

I have discussed previously why California is a Worst State.  It over taxes, over regulates and is costly do business there.  See our previous post California Facts Suggest it is a Worst State

This proposal does not appear to fix these problems.  It just shuffles the burdens around a little by being according to the Commission “revenue neutral.”

“This is the most significant tax policy proposal in three decades,” said Assemblyman Chuck Devore (R-Irvine). “But the chances of this getting approved, as is, are zero percent.”  The LA Times reported the proposal is unlikely to pass.  See LA Times story Tax commission report falls flat, but it’s a start

With the U.S. in the midst of a severe job shrinkage, it is only a matter of time that some states and legislatures start getting serious about creating an environment conducive to job creation.  Cutting tax burdens and tax rates will be a strong first step in getting the job engine going.  California’s proposal unfortunately is not a step in the right direction. It will remain a Worst State for Taxes even if it passes the Commission’s recommendations.

Schwarzenegger “California Best State.” Facts Don’t Support Claim

Governor Schwarzenegger put the Best and Worst States debate in the news during a July 3 San Francisco news conference.  See Sacramento

California regularly shows up as one of the Worst States in the union based on many important indicators.  Yet the Governor recently attempted to make a case for California being the best! He did not make a very persuasive case.  He claimed a diversified economy should be the benchmark to judge a best state.

Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “We are the best place simply because of we are a diversified economy,”

“What state has entertainment, music, agriculture, biotechnology, nanotechnology, green technology, high technology?”

We strongly disagreeCalifornia regularly ranks as one of the Worst States.

Here are just a few of the facts and measurements:

California has the Worst Credit rating of all 50 states in the country.  It has no money and is currently issuing iou’s.

California is rated 47th, a Worst State for Entrepreneurship and Small Businees, according to the Small Business and     Entrepreneurship Council.  CEO’s have ranked it the Worst State for 5 years in a row according to Chief Executive Magazine.

It is rated 49th, for  Best and Worst States for Individual Income Taxes according to the Tax Foundation.

California has the 2nd highest marginal income tax rate in the nation at 10.3%.  Only Hawaii is higher.

According to Missouri  California is the 2nd highest cost of living state in the country, behind only Hawaii.

California has the highest gas tax in the nation. See Best and Worst States for Gasoline Taxes.

California has the most unemployed people in the nation and has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the nation with 11.5% of     its population unemployed.

California has the most job red tape and licensing requirements of any state in the nation according with a nation     leading 177 job license requirements.

California has the 3rd most political convictions in the nation according to the Report to Congress on the Activities and Operations of     the Public Integrity Section.

Governor how can you say California is the best?

“Look at other states. … Texas? Oil. Florida? Old people. Whatever,” he said. “We have a whole bunch of things.”

Taking shots at Texas and Florida was also uncalled for and does not make the case for California.  These states rank far better than California regularly and are considered as top states for growing business. Both states’ populations enjoy zero personal income taxes.  Gov. Schwarzenegger should focus on California and not bash other states that are in far better position than his.

“California is doing very well,” he said. “We just have to get out of this crisis.”

We are all for Governors being salespeople for their states.  In this case Gov. Schwarzenegger telling the world that California is the best is just not believable.  The facts suggest otherwise.  Look in other states if you are thinking of relocating.

Comment on “Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich”

My good friend Steven Moore along with Art Laffer wrote a great piece today in the Wall Street Journal titled Soak the Rich, Lose the Rich

Their piece reinforces the general messages of this site, namely that there are Best and Worst States in the U.S. to live, create wealth and grow a business.  The story makes a case for common sense state policies of low taxes and favorable business regulatory climate.  In the piece Moore and Laffer point out that the no income tax states have created “89% more jobs and had 32% faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.”  In other words, successful people and businesses go to the more favorable tax and regulatory environments.

We have long advocated state governments to adopt  more business and citizen friendly policy.  Laffer and Moore bring this issue to the forefront today with their well-written piece.  I hope state governors and legislators also read it and take action.

For more on tax policy of states see our posts Best and Worst States for Individual Taxes

and Best and Worst States for Business

For those of you interested the nine no income tax states in the U.S. are  Texas, Nevada, New Hampshire, Florida, South Dakota, Wyoming, Washington, Alaska and Tennessee.  New Hampshire and Tennessee do tax interest and dividends however.