2008 record      

 

Just 16 states have seen job growth since President Obama took office, according to state employment data released Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The remaining states have lost a combined 1.4 million jobs since January 2009.

Even 34 months after the recession officially ended in June 2009, there are still 11 states that have fewer people working now than at the start of the recovery.

Meanwhile, 20 states have unemployment rates at or above 8%, including nine with unemployment at 9% or higher, according to the BLS.

At the other end of the spectrum, Texas has been the leader in job creation under Obama, with 240,000 more people working there than when he took office. Since the recovery started in June 2009, Texas has added 474,000 jobs, which accounts for one in four of all the jobs created during the recovery.

North Dakota takes the prize for fastest job growth rate, with employment climbing 13% since Obama took office, due largely to the oil boom there.

The biggest job loser under Obama is California, which as of April was down 285,000 job vs. January 2009, BLS data show.

The data underscore how the lackluster recovery has failed to come close to filling back the job losses from the recession, a poor performance that is sure to weigh on Obama's re-election prospects.

The latest IBD/TIPP poll, for example, finds just 35% give Obama a top grade for his handling of the economy, while 43% give him a D or F.

Obama has attempted to assuage such concerns by boasting about the "extraordinary progress that we've been able to make," including "4 million jobs created over the last two years."

But the nation's workforce is still 5 million smaller than it was at the previous employment peak, set way back in January 2008, BLS data show. At 51 months, it's already the longest jobs recession since the Great Depression, with no end in sight.

By this point in the recovery from the 1981-82 recession — which saw unemployment shoot up to 10.8% — the labor force was 6.8 million larger than at the pre-recession jobs peak.

Red Vs. Blue States

Looked at through the political prism, red states — those likely to vote for Mitt Romney this November — gained jobs, on average, under Obama. Blue states, in contrast, had an average job loss rate of almost 1%.

And since the recovery started, red states have had a job growth rate of nearly twice that of blue states.

Tossup states, meanwhile, have performed worse than either red or blue states. In fact, 9 of the 11 battleground states have fewer people employed now than when Obama was sworn in.

IBD also compared state job growth with business friendliness. States that rank highest on this measure — which typically focuses on tax rates, regulations, tort reform and the size of the state government — have experienced faster job growth rates than those ranking lowest.

IBD examined state business friendliness rankings from Forbes, CNBC, the George Mason University's Mercatus Center, the Tax Foundation and Chief Executive magazine.

States that ranked in the top 10 in two or more of those lists had nearly twice the job growth rate of those showing up in the bottom 10 in two or more rankings. Top-ranked states also had an unemployment rate almost a full percentage point below the least business friendly states.

"We can take lessons we learn from states and apply them nationally," said Jason Sorens, assistant professor of political science at the State University of New York, Buffalo, and co-author of the Mercatus 50-state ranking study. "If keeping taxes, spending and regulations low and reasonable promotes growth in states, we should expect that same relationship to hold nationally."

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