By: Janet Harrah
The labor market recovery since June 2009 (the recession’s official end date) has been generally sluggish, but at the same time has varied considerably across states. Over the past 12 months ending May 2012, total employment in the United States increased 1.1% adding 1.4 million net new jobs. During this period, state employment growth has ranged from North Dakota’s fast-paced 5.8% to continued job losses in six states including Rhode Island, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Montana and Wisconsin. Over the past year, the rate of employment growth in Kentucky has outpaced the U.S. increasing 1.4% while Ohio has lagged a bit growing at a rate of 1%.
While North Dakota has grown quickly over the past year, it has added relatively few jobs compared to larger states such as Texas which added 227,200 jobs and California which added 145,400 jobs. Ohio’s 51,400 net new jobs accounted for 3.6% of the nation’s jobs growth over the past year while Kentucky’s 24,100 net new jobs accounted for 1.7%.
The country continues to add jobs; however, the rate of growth is concerning. At its current rate, it will take the nation three years to recover the jobs lost during the recession. Only 10 states have regained or surpassed pre-recession employment levels as of the 12 months ending May 2012 compared to the 12 months ending May 2007. In Ohio, employment levels still lag pre-recession levels by 319,000 jobs. At its current rate of growth it will take Ohio more than six years to regain pre-recession employment levels. Kentucky needs to add another 49,500 jobs to match employment levels for the 12 months ending May 2007. At its current rate of growth, it will take Kentucky 2 years to recover its pre-recession job levels.
Largest number of net new jobs by state (in thousands of jobs)
Longest time to recover pre-recession job levels at current growth rate (in thousands of jobs)
State-by-state percentage of total U.S. employment growth for the 12 months ending May 2012
 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc., Business Cycle Dating Committee.