Unemployment in the United States dropped to 6.7% in February, well below the 10% level it reached at the worst of the Great Recession. While the figure is not as low as economist would like, it represents a rebound which, along with housing and consumer spending, has indicated a modest recovery. However, the unemployment rate has stayed above 8% in four states, and that number may not improve in the near future.
The jobless rates in California, Illinois, Nevada, and Rhode Island were higher than 8% last month, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a matter of fact, the figure was 9% in Rhode Island. The reasons for the high numbers and the lack of recovery vary from state to state.
Rhode Island relied on manufacturing and the financial industry for its prosperity. Some of the big banks which were based in Providence haves left or were bought by larger financial companies. The manufacturing sector was hurt as many jobs left the state for areas where costs were based on better efficiency. None of the jobs lost because of these trends is likely to be replaced soon.
California’s jobless rate is based to some extent on extremely high joblessness in the Central Valley, well inland from Los Angeles and San Francisco. While tech jobs have caused a rebound in the area around San Francisco, the downturn in agriculture jobs has left the unemployment rate above 10% in several inland cities which include Riverside and Fresno.
In Nevada, the collapse of the real estate market and the construction jobs which went with it plunged home prices by well over a third in some parts of the state. People who relied on the value of their homes for their net worth lost all of that equity in some cases. The recession also dented traffic to the casinos in Las Vegas.
Illinois stands as a reminder that heavy industry manufacturing jobs are gone and will probably not return. It is part of the crescent of states where car, steel and auto parts companies drove the economies, including Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Some large cities in these areas have still not recovered. The best known of these is Detroit, which has been forced into Chapter 9 bankruptcy.
Unemployment in these four states will almost certainly stay higher than in the balance of the country, and the jobs the four states have lost may never come back