Check in Mail States Delay Tax Refunds

Some states may delay paying tax refunds again this year.  Taxpayers should call them the “Check In the Mail” States.

Last year Kansas, North Carolina, California and Missouri delayed tax refunds.  Taxpayers were not happy about it.  Tax refund delays are another sign of government mismanagement.  In response to last years fiasco, Missouri state house legislators this week passed a bill that if enacted will shorten the time period that the state can withhold payment without interest.  Missouri had to use stimulus money to pay its tax refunds.  See: Missouri State House Approves Quicker Refunds .

This year New York, Kansas, Iowa and Hawaii have already announced they may have to delay payments.  Taxpayers, who are entitled to refunds in these states, will unfortunately suffer.

Here are a few of the headlines and links to the state stories.

Hawaii will delay sending out tax refunds to balance budget

Hold It: Unpaid Parking tickets could delay Iowa tax refunds

NY Governor considers delays in paying tax refunds

Forbes recently published its “Special Report: The Global Debt Bomb.”  In one of its pieces,  United States of Debt , it ranks states according to financial health.  The metrics Forbes looked at for each state when building its ranking included unfunded pension liabilities, changes in tax revenue, credit agency ratings, debt as a percentage of Gross State Product, debt per capita, growth expectations for employment and the state economy, net migrations and a moocher ratio that compares government employees, pension burdens and Medicaid enrollees to private-sector employment.

The Worst States for Debt Trouble, according to Forbes, are Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California and New Jersey.

The States with the least Debt Problems are Utah, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia.  All states have significantly lower debt per capita than the Worst States.  The Best States also have lower unemployment than the U.S. average of 9.7% and lower than the Worst States with Debt Problems.  The Best States for Jobs will typically have better government management of debt.

Forbes also ran an analysis that shows that the states with the Worst Debt and Financial Problems are blue states i.e. states controlled by Democrats.  The piece attributed political unions and big spending by Democrats as the cause of the deepest fiscal holes.
See Political Litmus Test: Bluest States Spilling The Most Red Ink

Best States for Football Championships: Super Bowl Winners by State

Congratulations go to New Orleans Saints for winning their first Super Bowl Championship.

New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana will celebrate and have bragging rights all year long.  Only 15 states have ever had the honor of being the home state of a Super Bowl Champion.

What States have the most Super Bowl Champions?

California has the honor of being the state with the most football Super Bowl Wins.  Its teams have won 8 of the 44 completed Super Bowls.  Two teams have contributed to California’s rank as the Best State for Football Championships. The San Francisco 49ers have 5 wins and the Oakland Raiders have 3.

Pennsylvania is the second Best State for Football Championships with all 6 wins coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team with the most Super Bowl wins.  Texas is ranked as the third Best State for Football Championships with 5 wins, all by the Dallas Cowboys.

The state list of Super Bowl Winners is below:

Super Bowl Champions by State


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 to Move To

What states are people moving to?  Economists would say that you can learn a lot from people “voting with their feet.”  They leave states for many reasons:  economic opportunity, lower taxes, weather, cost of living etc.

The 2009 Allied Van Lines 42nd Annual Magnet States Report  is an useful report in understanding where people are moving to.  There are some changes from last year that would suggest the economy has influenced people’s moving decisions.

Texas was the Best State to Move To in 2009.  It had the most net people moves in the US, over three times more than any other state.  It was also the most popular state to move to in 2008.  Arizona and North Carolina, which was ranked 2 in 2008, were also popular states to move to.  They were very close in net moves being separated by only 2 moves according to Allied Van Lines.

According to the annual magnet report, the Best States to Move To in 2009 were Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and Florida.

The Worst States to Move To in 2009 were Michigan, Illinois,Pennsylvania, New Jersey and CaliforniaNew York is also an unpopular state to move to.  Both Illinois and New York have now lost population, according to the Allied study, for 33 straight years!!  California lost people in 2009.  Its 12.4% unemployment rate may have had something to do with this exodus.  See also Taxpayers Leave New York  and People Choose Best States to Live with their Feet

It should also be noted that this survey is not a definitive migration study.  Florida, for example according to the Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, lost population in 2009 for the first time in 63 years.  This is at odds with the Allied stats.  See


Political leaders in states where people are leaving should take note.  When people leave a state, something is not working for them in that state.

Job Stimulus Not Working: Best States for Jobs 2009

Job Openings continued their year long decline in November.

Only 3 States show job opening increases since January 29 at the beginning of the Obama Administration.  The Best States for Jobs are Indiana, Kentucky and Idaho as they are the only states that have more job openings than at the end of January.  Yet despite these increases, unemployment continues to rise.  Indiana’s unemployment rate has increased this year to 9.8% from 8.2% in January.  Kentucky has increased to 11.2% from 8.7%.  Idaho has seen its unemployment rate increase to 9.0% from 6.5% in January.  Job openings are not keeping up with job losses.

The Worst States for Jobs are many.  47 states have lower job openings posted on than in January.

California Jobs
have decreased the most since January with 4,764 fewer openings.  Texas has 3,138 fewer jobs and Illinois Jobs have also decreased by 2,742.

Nationwide,  job openings have dropped 13.01% since January.  There were 204,475 job openings on at the end of November 2009 as compared to 235,059 in January.  This is an important indicator for employment direction as job openings precede employment.  Employers are not creating enough new jobs to keep up with the pace of losses.  The US had 15.7 million unemployed people in October 2009 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Many more job openings must emerge to improve the unemployment rate.

The Wall Street Journal today also ran a piece on upcoming job cuts.  It sees cuts increasing in 2010 as stimulus money is running out on certain construction infrastructure jobs.  Nationwide construction industry unemployment is now a staggering 19.1% and looks to get worse.  See Job Cuts Loom as Stimulus Fades

The stimulus program is showing few signs of progress on the job front.  Expect rising unemployment over the coming months because job openings are weak and the short term bump from the stimulus fades.  Private sector jobs are the key for long term employment improvement.  The List of Job Openings by State follows.

Job Openings by State

State 11/30/09 1/29/09 +/- % Change
1 California 21,091 25,855 -4,764 -18.43%
2 Texas 16,913 20,051 -3,138 -15.65%
3 Florida 13,263 15,174 -1,911 -12.59%
4 New York 11,702 13,057 -1,355 -10.38%
5 Illinois 10,960 13,702 -2,742 -20.01%
6 Pennsylvania 10,222 11,141 -919 -8.25%
7 Ohio 7,694 8,276 -582 -7.03%
8 New Jersey 7,421 8,628 -1,207 -13.99%
9 Virginia 6,385 7,186 -801 -11.15%
10 North Carolina 6,370 6,803 -433 -6.36%
11 Georgia 5,600 5,992 -392 -6.54%
12 Maryland 5,474 6,552 -1,078 -16.45%
13 Michigan 5,419 5,541 -122 -2.20%
14 Massachusetts 5,208 6,168 -960 -15.56%
15 Indiana 5,143 4,731 412 8.71%
16 Arizona 5,014 5,992 -978 -16.32%
17 Tennessee 4,214 4,413 -199 -4.51%
18 Washington 4,187 4,914 -727 -14.79%
19 Missouri 4,154 4,458 -304 -6.82%
20 Connecticut 3,895 4,531 -636 -14.04%
21 Wisconsin 3,736 4,314 -578 -13.40%
22 Minnesota 3,487 4,193 -706 -16.84%
23 Colorado 3,485 4,214 -729 -17.30%
24 Kentucky 3,005 2,763 242 8.76%
25 South Carolina 2,946 3,136 -190 -6.06%
26 Kansas 2,669 3,236 -567 -17.52%
27 Louisiana 2,643 3,494 -851 -24.36%
28 Alabama 2,132 2,567 -435 -16.95%
29 Iowa 2,028 2,499 -471 -18.85%
30 Oregon 1,770 1,832 -62 -3.38%
31 Oklahoma 1,676 2,269 -593 -26.13%
32 Nevada 1,661 1,865 -204 -10.94%
33 Mississippi 1,357 1,548 -191 -12.34%
34 New Mexico 1,242 1,423 -181 -12.72%
35 Utah 1,141 1,236 -95 -7.69%
36 Arkansas 1,121 1,414 -293 -20.72%
37 Nebraska 981 1,230 -249 -20.24%
38 Delaware 889 1,057 -168 -15.89%
39 West Virginia 754 856 -102 -11.92%
40 Idaho 739 665 74 11.13%
41 Hawaii 656 865 -209 -24.16%
42 New Hampshire 593 694 -101 -14.55%
43 Rhode Island 593 707 -114 -16.12%
44 Alaska 509 805 -296 -36.77%
45 Vermont 499 659 -160 -24.28%
46 South Dakota 452 585 -133 -22.74%
47 Maine 424 449 -25 -5.57%
48 Montana 392 508 -116 -22.83%
49 Wyoming 286 373 -87 -23.32%
50 North Dakota 280 438 -158 -36.07%
Entire U.S. 204,475 235,059 -30,584 -13.01%

States running out of Jobless Money, Taxing Employers More

23 States are now borrowing from the U.S. Government to pay for unemployment benefits. (California has borrowed  $4.5 billion as of mid October 2009, the most in the nation.)

This is only the beginning of the bad news for states and employers.  States will be borrowing more and taxing employers more in 2010. This will impact the willingness of companies to hire in the future.  This is not good news for the job market.

For example, Florida, which has borrowed $465 million as of mid October, this past week increased its unemployment insurance tax on employers for next year quite substantially.  The minimum tax will jump from $8.40 per employee to $100.30 – analmost 12-fold increase – while the maximum will go up from $378 peremployee to $459.  Florida is facing a multitude of issues as it tries to dig itself out of the faltering economy.  The Sun-Sentinel did a great piece this week highlighting how Florida is losing residents, jobs and borrowing $300 million per month to make unemployment payments.  See Shrinking Florida faces tough choices as residents flee, jobs vanish

Arizona is among 33 states that will increase unemployment compensationtaxes next year, according the National Association of State WorkforceAgencies.  See  State tax push makes U.S. firms wary of adding jobs

Arizona recently asked to borrow $600 million in federal funds to keep its jobless payments going.  With its October 2009 unemployment rate of 9.3% Arizona will be needing to raise taxes on employers as well.  It is currently estimated that Arizona will increase its tax 41.8% on employers in January 2010.  See Arizona jobless funds running out

Most states will announce their unemployment tax rates for 2010 before year end and taxes will be increasing.  This is bad news for employers and the outlook for jobs. The Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog recently posted a good explanation on how these increases will further hurt the job market.  See How Unemployment Taxes and Obama’s Stimulus Are Killing Jobs

The List of States Borrowing To Pay Unemployment Benefits follows.  We added Arizona to the BLS list that was compiled as of October 19, 2009.

Rank State Fed Loan
1 California $4.5 billion
2 Michigan $2.8 billion
3 New York $1.6 billion
4 Ohio $1.4 billion
5 North Carolina $1.3 billion
6 Pennsylvania $1.3 billion
7 Indiana $1.3 billion
8 New Jersey $700 million
9 Texas $697 million
10 Wisconsin $684 million
11 Arizona $600 million
12 Illinois $590 million
13 South Carolina $570 million
14 Kentucky $469 million
15 Florida $465 million
16 Missouri $326 million
17 South Dakota $308 million
18 Minnesota $143 million
19 Arkansas $135 million
20 Rhode Island $104 million
21 Idaho $73 million
22 Alabama $47 million
23 Connecticut $31 million

Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics

Trustworthy States: Best States to Lose Your Wallet

Gallup recently released a poll on Best States to Lose Your Wallet

With unemployment rising and economic stress increasing, the trust we have in our neighbors and community is of increasing concern. We want to live in a Safe States as they are Best States to Live.  The poll asked people if they believed a lost wallet with $200 in would be returned.  Nationwide 70% of people believe that their wallet would be returned with money still in the wallet.  Large States according to Gallup are generally viewed as less trustworthy.  People in the Southern half of the country do not trust their neighbors as much as people in the North. See Gallup’s map below.

The Best States for Neighbor Trust are:

Top 10 States, Trust in Neighbor

The Worst States for Neighbor Trust are:

Bottom 10 States, Trust in Neighbor

People in the South do not trust their neighbors as much as the North according to Gallup. Chart courtesy of Gallup.

U.S. Map: Trust in Neighbor, by State
When picking your place to live consider your neighbors. Safe States are Best States to Retire and are Top States to Live

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%

Best and Worst States for Births and End of Life

Floyd Norris of the New York Times had an interesting blog post today titled Where People Die .  An unusual topic.  Floyd’s post listed the Best and Worst States for Births and States with Most Deaths per capita.

Then again Floyd does unusual work as evidenced by the fact that he interviewed me in Dec of 2007.  His piece Pessimism Is Growing in Executive Suites investigated the outlook from the CEO perspective. I stated back then ““The recent dramatic drop in confidence may suggest that the worst is yet to come.”  Prescient in hindsight.  CEO’s were very negative about the future then and they continue to be.

The States with Most Births per capita are below.  Utah is the state with the most births per capita.  Alaska, Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma are also Top States for Births.

Most births by State per 100,000 people
1. Utah, 160
2. Alaska, 138
3, Mississippi, 136
4. Texas, 135
5. Oklahoma, 132
6. Idaho, 130
7. Georgia, 130
8. Arizona, 129
9. Hawaii, 129
10. Louisiana, 128

Vermont is the state with the fewest births per capita.

Fewest births per 100,000 people
1. Vermont, 75
2. Maine, 79
3. New Hampshire, 82
4. Rhode Island, 88
5. Connecticut, 89
6. Massachusetts, 94
7. Pennsylvania, 96
8. Michigan, 97
9. West Virginia, 99
10. Oregon, 102

Utah is the State with lowest Deaths per capita.

Fewest deaths per 100,000 people
1. Utah, 44
2. Alaska, 45
3. California, 53
4. Nevada, 54
5. Colorado, 55
6. Texas, 60
7. Washington, 60
8. Arizona, 60
9. Idaho, 61
10. Hawaii, 62

West Virginia is the State with the Most Deaths per capita.

Most deaths per 100,000 people

1. West Virgina, 107
2. Arkansas, 92
3. Oklahoma, 91
4. Alabama, 90
5. Iowa, 88
6. Mississippi, 86
7. Ohio, 86
8. Tennessee, 85
9. Missouri, 83
10. Montana, 81

Floyd also reports some observations about the politics of the lists. It might have been more fun if he had made some social observations.  For example, is Utah more of a loving state as evidenced by the its high birth rates?  Why is Vermont having so few births?  Do they need to love a little more?  State lists are fun   What are your thoughts?