July | August 2017

By Jennifer Burnett, CSG Program Manager, Fiscal and Economic Policy

Unemployment Rates

In December 2013, the national unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest level in five years. After hitting a postrecessionary high of 10 percent in October 2009, the unemployment rate has fallen slowly and steadily, but remains nearly 2 percentage points higher than it was when the recession began in December 2007. In December 2013, North Dakota (2.6 percent), South Dakota (3.6 percent) and Nebraska (3.6 percent) had the lowest unemployment rates, while Rhode Island (9.1 percent), Nevada (8.8 percent) and Illinois (8.6 percent) had the highest rates.
Unemployment Rates Vary by Demographic Groups
The 20.8 percent unemployment rate for teenagers remained higher than any other group in November 2013, while the rate for adult men (6.7 percent) was slightly higher than the rate for adult women (6.2 percent). The 12.5 percent unemployment rate for blacks continued to be significantly higher than the national rate, while the unemployment rate was 8.7 percent for Hispanics and 5.3 percent for Asians.
The unemployment rate for those age 25 and older with less than a high school diploma was 10.6 percent in November 2013, compared to 7.3 percent for high school graduates with no college, 6.4 percent for those with some college or an associate degree, and 3.5 percent for those with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Unemployment Trust Funds

During and after the recession, many states exhausted their unemployment trust funds—the funds from which states pay unemployment benefits—due to high unemployment rates and the extended length of time many people had been without work. At its peak in 2010, 31 states plus the Virgin Islands were borrowing nearly $41 billion. That number is down dramatically: As of Jan. 30, 2014, 15 states plus the Virgin Islands had balances on their trust fund accounts totaling $21.7 billion.
TOTAL $21,678,860,059.19

Long-Term Unemployment

In his 2014 State of the Union, President Obama said unemployment is a continuing problem and called on the private sector to help in giving those considered long-term unemployed a chance. “I've been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at new jobs, a new chance to support their families,” Obama said. A few days later, the White House announced that about 300 businesses, including big names like Walmart, Apple, General Motors and Ford, had signed on to revise their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants who had been out of work for a significant amount of time.
In November 2013, more than 4 million of the unemployed were considered long-term unemployed—someone who has been unemployed for more than 27 weeks. More than 37 percent of the unemployed fall into the long-term category, which remains relatively close to the record high of 45.3 percent hit in March 2011. Before the recession began in December 2007, the long-term unemployment rate was 17.4 percent. Although this statistic is still well above historical norms, it is trending down—there are nearly 2.1 million fewer long-term unemployed than there were during the postrecession peak of 6.2 million people.
According to analysis by David Cooper at the Economic Policy Institute, in 28 states in 2013, more than a third of the unemployed had been jobless for six months or more. New Jersey has the highest percentage of long-term unemployed (46.6 percent), followed by Florida (46.2 percent) and Rhode Island (44.6 percent). In contrast, South Dakota (17.2 percent), North Dakota (19.6 percent) and Iowa (21 percent) had the lowest rates of
long-term unemployment.