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High unemployment rates still remain in West and South

October 6th, 2011

The nation’s unemployment problems just won’t seem to go away.

In a report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on regional and state employment, 26 states and Washington, D.C., reported increases in unemployment, while only 12 reported unemployment decreases from July to August.

The national unemployment rate remained the same at 9.1 percent from July to August. At this point last year, though, the rate stood at 9.6 percent.

This report comes right after President Obama’s proposal of The American Jobs Act earlier this month, in which the main goal, according to the president, is to “put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans.”

Most of the unemployment growth has occurred in the West and in the South.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leading the nation in unemployment rates is Nevada, with 13.4 percent. Next highest is California, with an unemployment rate of 12.1.

Many states leading the nation in unemployment are also in the South.

South Carolina (11.1 percent), Florida (10.7), North Carolina (10.4), Mississippi (10.3), Georgia (10.2), and Alabama (9.9) are all within the top 10 highest rates of unemployment.

Georgia alone has lost 29,000 jobs since last year, and lost 18,200 last month alone.

California has had a 1.2 percent increase in the past year, but its jobless rate is still higher than post-recession levels.

Since 2009, Nevada, California, Florida, Mississippi and Georgia have all still seen unemployment grow since the recession.

Michigan, perhaps hit hardest by the fallout of the auto industry, has recovered nicely since the recession. In 2009, Michigan had a jobless rate of 13.8 percent. Since then, it has fallen to 11.2 percent.

Ohio’s unemployment rate has fallen 1.3 percent since the recession ended.

Image from The New York Times

The Cleveland region specifically has fallen approximately 1.1 percent since June 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Historically, the Rust Belt has been the region that has seen the more difficult end of unemployment issues.

It seems since the recession in 2007, that trend may be shifting towards the Sun Belt and out west.

Michael Chriszt, an official from the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s research department explained to The New York Times why Georgia remains at an unemployment stalemate, “For a long time we tended to outpace the national average with regard to economic performance, and a lot of that was driven by, for lack of a better word, development and in-migration. That came to an abrupt halt, and it has not picked up.”

South Carolina’s unemployment woes can be attributed to a still-recovering construction and manufacturing sector.

Richard Kaglic a regional economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., told The Times, “The state’s lingering troubles reflect what happened when its construction and manufacturing industries were hit hard by the recession.”

It’s also interesting to note a report released by the Census Bureau earlier this month that said poverty rose to a record 46.2 million Americans (15.1 percent) in 2010.

In 2009, the year the recession ended,  42.9 million Americans were in poverty, 0.8 percent lower than in 2010.

According to the Census Bureau, poverty rate grew the most in the South,  with a 1.2 percent increase, followed by the Northeast  and Midwest (both grew 0.6 percent), and then the West (0.5 percent).

The South’s poverty rate grew double that of the next closest regions from 2009 to 2010.

Surprisingly, despite the high rates of employment in the West, it still has the lowest poverty rates.

Obama’s jobs bill seeks to tackle both of these problems. The success of his presidency as well as the success of his campaign for 2012 could very well be tied to what he accomplishes with this issue in the final year of his first term.