While everyone else is busy gnashing their teeth and tearing their hair about Detroit’s insolvency and the cancellation of light rail plans and the myriad other bleak Ghosts of Christmas Yet To Come, let me instead point you to a cheerful Ghost of Christmas Present, in the unlikely guise of the BLS’ latest state unemployment report. Here’s a rundown of the 11 states with the highest unemployment rates in November 2011:
- Nevada – 13%
- California – 11.3%
- District of Columbia – 10.6%
- Mississippi, Rhode Island – 10.5%
- Florida, Illinois, North Carolina – 10%
- South Carolina, Georgia – 9.9%
- Michigan- 9.8%
That’s right. No fewer than 7 Sunbelt states (8 if you count D.C.) have higher unemployment rates than Michigan including two states that were until very recently economic development darlings, North Carolina and Georgia. Also for the first time in many years, to my knowledge, we’ve moved ahead of Illinois. This remarkable progress was driven by the biggest drop in unemployment of any state, -0.8%.
The usual caveats apply: this just reflects a change in how many people are actively seeking work and doesn’t reflect all the poor souls who just gave up and left the labour force. No one will deny we have plenty of those. I’m not by nature an optimist. But I’ll take the good news where I can.