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

Are Business Friendly States Best for Jobs?

Editors Note:  If you are looking for a Best State for Jobs start your search with our latest posts:


Which States had the Best Employment Markets in 2009? Will 2010 Job Market Improve?

Best States for Job Openings September 2009

Best States for Job Openings and Where to find a Job

For the August 2009 list of Best States for Employment see Best and Worst States for Employment

Click on the category Best and Worst States for Jobs on the right navigation for our collection of articles on Jobs.

In our Job Openings post you will see the trends by state in job openings and what states are currently experiencing increased job openings.  We also have published the List of Job Openings by State

******Editor’s Note:  The rest of this post was published in April 2009 Go to  Best and Worst States   for our latest  *********************

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the March State Unemployment rates this week.   For our August 2009 listing and analysis of Best States for Job Openings click

We now have 8 states with unemployment above 10%.  Michigan is the Worst State for Jobs with an unemployment rate of 12.6%. Oregon is also very bad for jobs with a rate of 12.1%.  California, our most populated state, has an unemployment of 11.2% meaning that 1 out of 9 people are out of work. South Carolina also is a Worst State for Jobs with unemployment of 11.4%.

The  Best State for Jobs in March was North Dakota at 4.2%.  The other Top 5 States for Jobs were Wyoming at 4.5%, Nebraska at 4.6%, South Dakota at 4.9%.  Iowa and Utah were tied for fifth with 5.2% unemployment.

We thought we would take a look this month also at how states that are ranked for small business are doing on the job front.  In theory the better the small business environment the better the job environment.  We used the recently released SBEC report.  See: Best and Worst States for Small Business

The data shows that the Best States for Small Business are not all the Best States for Jobs at this moment.  5 of the top 10 Best States for Small Business, for example, have below average i.e. higher, unemployment. 45th ranked Iowa for example has the 4th best employment in the U.S.

As mentioned in the previous post, the SBEC index is primarily a tax based system and high or lower taxes are not the only reason companies grow and create jobs.  It would appear intuitive over time business friendly states should create more business and jobs. We will continue to watch this during the cycle as the better states may grow first and faster.

Rank State %Unemp  Biz Rank
2 WYOMING 4.5 3
3 NEBRASKA 4.6 40
5 IOWA 5.2 45
5 UTAH 5.2 24
7 LOUISIANA 5.8 26
8 NEW MEXICO 5.9 27
8 OKLAHOMA 5.9 15
10 KANSAS 6.1 33
10 MONTANA 6.1 31
13 ARKANSAS 6.5 23
14 TEXAS 6.7 5
15 VIRGINIA 6.8 16
16 MARYLAND 6.9 35
18 IDAHO 7 41
19 HAWAII 7.1 37
20 VERMONT 7.2 43
21 COLORADO 7.5 8
23 DELAWARE 7.7 21
24 ARIZONA 7.8 17
24 NEW YORK 7.8 46
28 MAINE 8.1 48
29 MINNESOTA 8.2 49
30 NEW JERSEY 8.3 50
31 ALASKA 8.5 7
31 WISCONSIN 8.5 32
33 MISSOURI 8.7 14
34 ALABAMA 9 9
35 ILLINOIS 9.1 18
36 GEORGIA 9.2 19
39 TENNESSEE 9.6 13
40 FLORIDA 9.7 6
40 OHIO 9.7 10
42 DC 9.8 51
42 KENTUCKY 9.8 28
44 INDIANA 10 22
45 NEVADA 10.4 2
46 RHODE ISLAND 10.5 44
48 CALIFORNIA 11.2 47
50 OREGON 12.1 34
51 MICHIGAN 12.6 20

Best and Worst States for Jobs: Should you consider North Carolina?

Jobs are on everyone’s mind.

North Carolina is a state to consider when looking for work despite its high unemployment rate of 8.7%. It is currently rated 44th,(one of the Worst) on our  Best and Worst State Unemployment List

Yet Wayne Gretzky once said, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is.  A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

Same thing with jobs.  A great job seeker goes where the jobs are going to be!!!!

North Carolina is long term an attractive place for job seekers.

Here are a few reasons:

Chief Executive Magazine  does an annual Best And Worst States to Grow Your Business. CEO’s ranked North Carolina 3rd in 2008.  It has been in the top 5 the last 4 years.

Its cost of living is favorable compared to many high cost states in the U.S.  Businesses like lower costs.

It is attractive to new hot industries and companies.

For example, North Carolina  has emerged as a global biotech leader. This is reflected in a multitude of facts:
• North Carolina is the third Best Biotech State in the nation with 482 companies in the field.
• At least 45 biotech firms in the state are based on North Carolina university technologies.
• Nearly 55,000 North Carolina residents work in biotech, representing an annual payroll of $3 billion.
• Major biotech companies with operations in North Carolina include GlaxoSmithKline, Bayer, Catalent Pharma, Novartis, Syngenta, BASF, Biogen Idec, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Wyeth and others.

What does being attractive to business mean?

Look at this recent announcement from Spirit AeroSystems.

N.C. Gov. Mike Easley, third from left, was among those participating in September
groundbreaking ceremonies for Spirit AeroSystems’ facility in Kinston, N.C.
Groundbreaking for Spirit AeroSystems' Kinston facility

Photo:  Site Selection Online

Spirit will build a 500,000-sq.-ft. (46,450-sq.-m.) complex at the North Carolina Global TransPark (GTP) near Kinston to design and manufacture the center fuselage frame section for the Airbus A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) commercial aircraft. The company also will produce the front spars for the aircraft’s wings at the Kinston plant, which is scheduled to be operational in 2010.
Spirit expects to hire 500 people upon completion and the number could go to 1000 depending on business circumstances.

While projects, like Spirits, can go slower and be smaller than expected due to changing market circumstances, one important point should not be forgotten.  Spirit selected North Carolina over many other locations.  Other businesses will likely do the same.  This is where the puck is going to be.

Monster Board currently shows 3905 jobs posted in the past 30 days.  The jobs are primarily in sales and health care fields.  This is not a high number now.  When businesses start to grow, they will pick attractive states like North Carolina to expand.   Remember there is a positive multiplier effect for jobs in other industries such as housing, retail and services from this kind of business expansion.

I hope you become a “great” job seeker and go where the jobs are going to be!

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Best and Worst States for Jobs, State Job List from Careerbuilder

Jobs, Jobs, Jobs.  Everyone is concerned about jobs.  Our economic stimulus program is supposed to help create more jobs.

I thought you would find the list of job openings by state enlightening.  The data was collected from Careerbuilder on 1/29/2009. 

(EDITORS NOTE:  For our updated list of BEST States for Jobs 2010 See Job Openings by State January 2010

For the latest list of Best and Worst States for Employment see Best States for Employment

Also see September 2009
please go to Best and Worst States for Jobs)and our Job Openings November 2009

It is the total number of job openings advertised on its site for the last 30 days by state. We thought this was a reasonable proxy for jobs although many low skilled jobs are not posted on the boards. We chose not to collect more than one site as many companies list their openings on multiple sites.

The Best States for Jobs are California, Texas, Florida, Illinois and New York in order of most job openings.  The Worst States are Wyoming, North Dakota, Maine, Montana and South Dakota.  Some of the Worst States have the lowest unemployment so there are very few unemployed people seeking work.  Wyoming, for example with only 373 jobs posted, has the lowest unemployment in the U.S.   Your odds are better where there are fewer applicants.  California has one of the highest unemployment rates in the U.S. at 9.3% so there is lots of competition for its 25,855 job openings.  See our Best and Worst State Unemployment List

By the way, the most advertised categories on Careerbuilder are for people with sales and healthcare skills.  If you are looking for a job you might want to make sure you are in the right field and the right state.  Total job openings need to increase in order for unemployment to decrease.  We will keep you posted.

     State                     Job Postings

 1    California               25855
2    Texas                     20051
3    Florida                   15174
4    Illinois                   13702
5    New York               13057
6    Pennsylvania          11141
7    New Jersey              8628
8    Ohio                         8276
9    Virginia                    7186
10    North Carolina        6803
11    Maryland                  6552
12    Massachusetts         6168
13    Arizona                    5992
14    Georgia                    5987
15    Michigan                  5541
16    Washington             4914
17    Indiana                    4731
18    Connecticut             4531
19    Missouri                   4458
20    Tennessee               4413
21    Wisconsin                4314
22    Colorado                 4214
23    Minnesota               4193
24    Louisiana                3494
25    Kansas                    3236
26    South Carolina        3136
27    Kentucky                2763
28    Alabama                 2567
29    Iowa                       2499
30    Oklahoma               2269
31    Nevada                   1865
32    Oregon                   1832
33    Mississippi             1548
34    New Mexico           1423
35    Arkansas               1414
36    Utah                       1236
37    Nebraska               1230
38    Delaware               1057
39    Hawaii                     865
40    West Virginia          856
41    Alaska                     805
42    Rhode Island           707
43    New Hampshire      694
44    Idaho                       665
45    Vermont                   659
46    South Dakota          585
47    Montana                  508
48    Maine                      449
49    North Dakota          438
50    Wyoming                373


Data developed on 1/29/09

Do Unions Contribute to Unemployment? Best and Worst States For Jobs

Highly unionized states have higher unemployment.

Editors Note:  For our February 2010 post that includes the updated State List of Unionization and Employment please go to State Unionism Rankings: Do Higher Unionized States have Higher Unemployment?

For the latest in Job Openings go to Job Openings by State January 2010

I thought you might find this list interesting.  It has been long debated whether unions help or hurt workers,companies and economies.  It appears that unionized states have high unemployment.  Pick where you want to live and work carefully.  Look for states with union participation below 10%.  You may have a higher chance of being employed.

Highest Unemployment States (Worst States) and Unionization

State                              Unemp%                        Rank                Union%        Union Rank
Michigan                9.6%                  50               19.5%           5
Rhode Island         9.3%                  49               15.0%          11
California               8.4%                  48               16.7%           7
South Carolina       8.4%                  47                 4.1%          48
Oregon                   8.1%                  46                14.3%         14

The most unionized state in the U.S. is New York at a 25.3%.  Its unemployment rate in November 2008 was 6.1%.

The lowest unemployment states typically have low union rates.  For example, Wyoming with the lowest unemployment at 3.3% has only 7.9% of its workforce unionized and ranks 32nd in U.S. in unionization.  Texas considered a Best State by CEO’s to grow their businesses has only a 4.7% unionization rate, 5th lowest in the country at a 45 rank. Its unemployment is 5.7%, below the country average.

The old adage “unions increase unemployment” may just be true.

Note to readers
:  State unemployment rates for December were recently released.  We will update you on some of the rankings.  Michigan’s unemployment jumped to 10.6%, California jumped to 9.3%, Rhode Island to 9.3%, Oregon to 9% and New York to 7%.  Wyoming has not reported. Texas unemployment is now 6%.  BLS will be releasing all state rankings shortly.

Sources: The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), Inc., Arlington, VA,
Union Membership and Earnings Data Book: Compilations from the
Current Population Survey (2008 edition), (copyright by BNA PLUS);
authored by Barry Hirsch of Georgia State University and David Macpherson of Florida
State University. Internet sites , 
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Best and Worst States for Entrepreneurs

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council in December released its 13th annual “Small Business Survival Index for 2008:  Ranking the Policy Environment for Entrepreneurship across the Nation.”

The Best and Worst Sates for Entrepreneurs are:

  Best                                                   Worst

1.  South Dakota                                51.  Washington DC
2.  Nevada                                         50.  New Jersey
3.  Wyoming                                      49.  California
4.  Florida                                          48.  Maine
5.  Washington                                  47.  Rhode Island

The study covers a broad area of policy matters from tax to regulation and is full of great info.  It can be found on the home page of the Council at: 

If you are thinking of starting a business or want to work in a state that fosters small business check it out.