The continued downward trend we’ve seen in unemployment rates across the country over the past year is encouraging news for job seekers, as ongoing growth and opportunities in U.S. job markets are helping people find more work. Things are looking up for the economy, and many regions are experiencing significant gains in job growth. In fact, January saw the national average for unemployment drop to 4.9 percent—the lowest it’s been since 2008.
Several states saw jobless rates decrease well below the national average 2015, with North Dakota having the lowest figures at 2.7 percent.
Top 3 States on the Rise
Out of all the states experiencing decreased unemployment rates, Michigan, Rhode Island, and California have the biggest year over year gains. There’s still room for progress in each state compared to higher performing states, though this positive momentum is good news for these regional economies and job markets.
Leading the pack with a 1.9 percentage point year-over-year decrease in 2015, Michigan’s average jobless rate dropped from a high 7.3 percent to 5.4 percent. While that doesn’t dip below the national average, it shows marked progress that has continued into this year’s figures, which show a jobless rate of 4.8 percent in March 2016. The state is currently number 1 in automotive production in the U.S. and has a higher number of engineers per capita than other states. Information technology jobs and tech startups are also booming in Michigan, driven by the state’s SmartZone, technology funds, and entrepreneurial incubator initiatives that aim to accelerate growth in those industries.
2) Rhode Island
Rhode Island’s average unemployment rate decreased by 1.7 percent in 2015, from 7.7 percent to 6.0 percent. It ended the year at 5.1 percent, seeing further improvement. The smallest state in the union added 8,400 new jobs last year. That’s the largest year-over-year gain since 2000 and marks the sixth year of steady job growth since The Great Recession. Clean energy is one of Rhode Island’s biggest industries, with state incentive programs driving the creation of new jobs in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
With a 1.3 percent decrease in average unemployment rates from 7.5 percent to 6.2, California holds the third slot for most improvement over the last year. This year, that’s continued to show gains with the state’s jobless rate dropping to 5.4 in March 2016. The state’s business incentives offer a wide range of programs, including tax credits for companies that are keen to stay in or relocate to California, to help spur continued job growth. Tech sector jobs remain a big piece of the state’s thriving industries, along with hospitality jobs, film production, and agriculture.
Interested in a closer look at recent growth across the job landscape?
Check out our in-depth 2016 Tech Employment Report by Region white paper to learn why now is a great time to be in the tech industry!