PRINCETON, NJ -- Employees in North Dakota were most likely in 2011 to report that their employers were hiring workers (42%) rather than letting workers go (8%). The state's resulting +34 score on Gallup's Job Creation Index was the best by a significant margin over any other state or the District of Columbia. Rhode Island had the lowest score of any state, at +4, meaning all states were in positive territory.
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Gallup asks U.S. workers whether their employer is hiring workers and increasing the size of its workforce or letting workers go and reducing the size of its workforce. The Job Creation Index is computed by taking the difference between the two percentages. Gallup interviewed nearly 200,000 workers in 2011, including at least 500 in every state. Full data for each state are available on page 2.
Overall, 31% of U.S. workers reported their employer was hiring workers, while 18% said theirs was letting workers go, for a net score of +13. That marks the second consecutive year of improvement after the index had fallen from +18 in 2008 to -2 in 2009 before recovering to +7 in 2010. Gallup did not measure job creation in years prior to 2008.
Five of the nine states with the highest Job Creation Index scores are Midwestern states, including North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Indiana, and South Dakota. The states with the lowest scores are largely a mixture of Eastern (Rhode Island, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and New York) and Western states (Nevada, Oregon, and New Mexico).
North Dakota Has Consistently Had a Strong Hiring Situation
Michigan (2008) or Nevada (2010) or both (they tied in 2009) had the lowest Job Creation Index scores in recent years, with Rhode Island finishing last in 2011. Michigan's scores have improved significantly in each of the last two years, such that it no longer ranks in the bottom 10 states and its score is now slightly above the national average, at +15.
Three states -- North Dakota, Oklahoma, and West Virginia -- have ranked in the top 10 in each of the last four years.
Five states -- Rhode Island, Nevada, New Jersey, California, and Connecticut (the last two are among five states tied for 10th this year) -- have ranked in the bottom 10 in each of the last four years.
Nevada Among Most Improved States
Though Nevada has had one of the worst job markets in recent years, things appear to be getting better for the state. Nevada, along with Utah, showed the most improvement in its job creation score from 2010 to 2011.
Nearly all U.S. states showed improvement in 2011. A few showed lower job creation scores last year than in 2010, but those changes were not statistically meaningful declines.
Job Creation Related to Economic Confidence
State-by-state economic confidence scores, which Gallup reported Monday, seem to be at least partly influenced by the hiring environment in each state. North Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, South Dakota, and the District of Columbia rank among the top states in both job creation and economic confidence. Curiously, West Virginia has consistently ranked among the bottom states in economic confidence but among the best states in job creation each year.
There is less overlap between the bottom states in job creation and in economic confidence, with only Rhode Island, Nevada, and Oregon ranking among the bottom states on both measures.
North Dakota is one of the least populous states in the U.S. but has consistently had one of the best job markets, according to reports of hiring activity from workers who live there. But every state's workers were more likely to report their companies were hiring workers than letting them go in 2011, a positive sign two years after the national average was in negative territory.
Despite the improvement over the last two years, Gallup's Job Creation Index is still below what it was in 2008 (+18), during the beginning of the economic downturn that sent unemployment soaring in 2009.
Gallup's "State of the States" series reveals state-by-state differences on political, economic, and wellbeing measures Gallup tracks each day. New stories based on full-year 2011 data will be released throughout the month of February.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking January-December, 2011, with a random sample of 198,412 employed adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
For results based on the total sample of workers, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.
Margins of error for individual states are no greater than ±5 percentage points, and are ±3 percentage points in most states. The margin of error for the District of Columbia is ±5 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cell phone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cell phone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. 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, and phone status (cell phone only/landline only/both, cell phone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2011 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 www.gallup.com.