Regional Disparities in Unemployment

Sarah Vanderbilt | May 8, 11:11 am

In the years of persistent unemployment that have followed the 2007-2009 recession, the most severe joblessness has been concentrated in the south, west and midwest of the U.S. For five months between Nov. 2009 and March 2010, 17 states in those regions endured unemployment above 10 percent compared to only two (Rhode Island and D.C.) in the rest of the country.

The stretch of land west of Mississippi river and east of Nevada has fared much better, as have New England and the mid-atlantic states. Thirteen states never saw unemployment top 8 percent and three states (North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska) enjoyed rates of 6 percent or less throughout the recession and its aftermath.

As of March 2012, the latest month for which state data is available, all states but three, California, Nevada and Rhode Island, had dipped back below the 10 percent unemployment mark. Six others, including four southern states, remained at 9 percent unemployment or higher.

The month-by-month timeline on the map above begins with January 2000, allowing for a comparison of the latest recession with the economic contraction of 2001, which had a much milder impact on jobs. Click the slider at the bottom of the interactive to move through time.


About the Data

The data above is taken from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics, a Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report on labor force and unemployment data for regions, states, counties, metropolitan areas and many cities. The map uses the smoothed seasonally adjusted series for metropolitan areas. The state data is available through the historical data tool; this text file provides the same information in a different format.