Economy

Energy, Federal Government States Provide Best Job Markets

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

The finance states of the Northeast and housing states of the West have the worst job markets

PRINCETON, NJ -- More than half of the 10 best job markets in 2010 are energy- and commodity-producing states, indicating how valuable these natural resource-based industries are to the U.S. economy at this time.

Best Job Markets, Gallup Job Creation Index, by State, January-June 2010 Worst Job Markets, Gallup Job Creation Index, by State, January-June 2010

Gallup's Job Creation Index shows that the energy-producing states of North Dakota, Louisiana, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Texas are in the top 10 state job markets for the first half of 2010, as they were in 2008 and 2009. They are joined by Alaska, another energy state; the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia, all of which benefit from the presence of federal government hiring; several farm states -- Arkansas, Iowa, and South Dakota -- that benefit from ethanol and a strong commodities market; and Pennsylvania -- possibly reflecting the steady improvement in manufacturing.

Despite an overall improvement in job market conditions, 5 states in the bottom 10 during the first half of 2010 were also on the list in 2008 and 2009: Nevada, Connecticut, Rhode Island, California, and Michigan. Additional financial-crisis states in the Northeast, including New Jersey, Maine, Vermont, New York, and New Hampshire, are some of the worst job markets. Other Western states in the bottom 10 include Idaho and Wyoming. Although Michigan's job market has improved substantially from 2009, it remains in the 2010 bottom 10.

These results are based on aggregated data from nearly 100,000 interviews with employed adults during the first half of 2010, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking. Gallup asks those who are employed whether their companies are hiring workers and expanding the size of their labor forces, not changing the size of their workforces, or laying off workers and reducing their workforces. The figures reported here represent the net difference between the percentage reporting an expansion and the percentage reporting a reduction in their workforces.

Complete results for all states are listed on page 2.

Job Market Outlook

State job market conditions for the first half of 2010 are similar to those of the recession years of 2008 and 2009: energy and commodity states, as well as those dominated by the federal government, continue to see their job markets do comparatively well, while job market conditions in housing-crash and financial industry states continue to fare comparatively poorly.

The relative improvement in the U.S. manufacturing sector is not fully reflected in these six-month measurements. However, Pennsylvania's entry into the top 10 list and Michigan's near-exit from the bottom 10 may illustrate the manufacturing recovery.

The key factors that drive comparative job market conditions across the nation may be changing. For example, although China continues to enjoy robust economic growth, that growth seems to be slowing somewhat. In turn, the demand for energy and commodities could moderate. At the same time, the oil spill in the Gulf and U.S. efforts to limit carbon emissions could also have a negative effect on the traditional energy sector. As a result, the energy-producing states may not continue to dominate the top 10 job markets by 2011.

Similarly, the expected economic slowdown in Europe and China could lead to a renewed slowdown in the U.S. manufacturing sector. It won't take much in many long-depressed areas to send those areas back to the bottom 10. And the continuing housing difficulties suggest job market conditions in the West may keep several states in this region at the bottom of the list.

Still, Gallup's Job Creation Index results suggest that job market conditions improved during the first half of 2010, and are now better than they were in 2009 -- and not just in the federal government's District of Columbia hiring area. More companies are hiring and fewer are letting people go right now, although overall new job growth remains relatively anemic.

This story is part of a series of midyear updates on Gallup's State of the States data, to be released in July and August on Gallup.com. See the complete schedule and send your suggestion for our "readers' pick." Gallup.com will report new full-year totals in early 2011 based on all 2010 surveys.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 2-June 30, 2010, with a random sample of 98,755 employed adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

The margins of sampling error for the individual states range from ±1 percentage point for large states such as California to ±8 percentage points for the District of Columbia.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each daily sample includes a minimum quota of 150 cell phone respondents and 850 landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents for gender within region. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, cell phone-only status, cell phone-mostly status, and phone lines. Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2009 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit http://www.gallup.com/.

Gallup Job Creation Index, Complete Results by State, January-June 2010

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