Economic recovery is mixed bag among states

Revenue growth is accelerating in most states but many jurisdictions faced strong economic headwinds going into the recent partial government shutdown and potential default, according to the latest edition of the Tax Policy Center’s State and Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monitor.

Max Whittaker/Reuters/File
The California Assembly works into the night in an effort to pass a number of bills before the end of the legislative session at the State Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. California's unemployment rate is falling, but remains substantially higher than the average.

The latest edition of the Tax Policy Center’s State and Local Finance Initiative’s State Economic Monitorfinds that revenue growth is accelerating in most states but many jurisdictions faced strong economic headwinds going into the recent partial government shutdown and potential default. In several states, a decline in public sector jobs was boosting unemployment even before the partial shutdown.

The State Economic Monitor shows state-by-state economic and finance trends and our new page on the website includes interactive maps and charts.

Between August 2012 and August 2013, the public sector shed 94,000 jobs, mostly federal positions. Forty-six states lost federal government jobs. Total government jobs (including state and local positions) increased in 18 states but every state except West Virginia remains below its peak level of government employment, seasonally adjusted.

The trends in unemployment rates vary widely. Thirty-six states have lower unemployment rates than a year ago while twelve states have higher rates. 

In Louisiana, for example, the unemployment rate rose from 6.4 percent in August 2012 to 7.0 percent in August 2013, but remained below the 7.3 percent national average. The number of unemployed in the state increased by almost 13,500.

California, Florida, and Nevada had better news:  the unemployment rate in each state fell by 1.5 percentage points or more from a year ago. This is particularly welcome in California and Nevada, where unemployment rates remain substantially above the national average.

Unemployment rates can be difficult to interpret, however, since they depend on how many people enter or drop out of the labor force as well as the sheer number of jobless. For example, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Nebraska added jobs but their unemployment rates rose because more people were looking for work. In Delaware, the number of unemployed was unchanged from a year ago but its unemployment rate increased because 4,000 residents dropped out of the labor force.

Our update does not reflect the partial government shutdown that began on October 1. However, states with high concentrations of federal employees and contractors began to feel the effects almost immediately. The Washington, DC, metro area will be particularly hard hit.  In 2012, federal wages made up about 35 percent of wages in the District of Columbia, 10 percent in Maryland, and 8 percent in Virginia. Tourism in the D.C. area has also likely been more affected than most localities by the shutdown of museums, monuments, and parks.

Along with the Monitor, we’ve updated the State and Local Finance-Data Query System, a tool to download and customize annual state and local revenue and expenditure data. The system is particularly helpful now while these numbers aren’t available on an inactive Census of Governments website. Give it a try.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Economic recovery is mixed bag among states
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today