10 U.S. States with the Highest Unemployment Rates
While some states have moved forward and even experienced the beginning of an economic recovery, the residents of these 10 states are still dealing with uncharacteristically high levels of unemployment.
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The states with the highest unemployment rates have a few things in common. For the most part, these states were hit hardest when the housing bubble burst. Also, many of these states have economies that are dependent on manufacturing. Major slowdowns in the auto and construction industries have left these states struggling.
Here are the 10 states with the highest levels of unemployment.
* Unemployment numbers are for July 2011 and are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
10. Georgia -- 10.1% (Tie)
In 2007, Georgia's economy was booming -- if the state were a country, it would have been the 28th largest economy in the world. But that hasn't kept the state from struggling during the recession.
Job losses in manufacturing, construction, wholesale and retail trade, transportation, warehousing, professional and business services have hurt the state. Georgia also has a strong military presence and Fort Gillem and McPherson, which were both closed in a round of base realignment.
9. North Carolina -- 10.1% (Tie)
It's no surprise that the downturn has hurt employment in North Carolina -- 20% of the state's income was tied up in manufacturing. Traditional industries such as textiles, furniture and tobacco have also taken a hit in recent years.
North Carolina is one of seven "at-will employment" states that allow businesses to discharge employees for any cause at all without liability, so employers have fewer barriers from downsizing. However, the state's low unionization rate may attract employers and help spur a future recovery.
8. Mississippi -- 10.4%
In addition to having one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, Mississippi is also the poorest state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The recession coupled with recent natural disasters have had a serious impact on the Magnolia State's local economy.
Like other states on this list, Mississippi is home to several manufacturing plants which have slowed production and cut jobs. In addition, a decrease in discretionary spending has hurt the state's gambling revenues.
7. Florida -- 10.7%
Remember back in the mid-2000s when everyone and their mother was buying property in Florida? That created a flurry of economic activity that suddenly disappeared when the floor fell out of the housing market in 2008.
With foreclosures on the rise and building halted, the number of construction jobs in Florida has been cut in half over the last five years.
Florida's economy is also driven in large part by small businesses. As larger corporations begin to expand, borrow money and hire, the Sunshine State, as well as its residents, is left in the cold.
6. District of Columbia -- 10.8% (Tie)
All is not well in our nation's capital. Unemployment in Washington D.C. is the fifth worst in the country. With more than a quarter of the jobs in the district coming from government and a solid long-term housing outlook, it comes as a bit of a surprise. The unemployment rate in Ward 8, only four miles from the White House, was 25.2% in January 2011.
D.C. has seen declines in manufacturing, education, health, construction and information technology jobs. D.C. is a particularly hard job market for teenage job seekers, where only half of the teen labor force has a job. With a federal budget crisis in full effect, the job situation may be even tougher in the near future.
5. Rhode Island -- 10.8% (Tie)
The country's smallest state is home to one of the largest jobless rates. Declines in public sector jobs, manufacturing and the collapse of the housing market have all contributed to the high unemployment rate.
In an economic downturn, it is often smaller businesses that are vulnerable. However, even larger employers with at least 1,000 employees, which account for 17% of the state's private sector jobs, have also been laying off employees.
4. Michigan -- 10.9% (Tie)
Home to Ford (NYSE: F), General Motors (NYSE: GM) and Chrysler, the implosion of the auto industry hit Michigan harder than any other state. However, with the entire manufacturing sector also struggling, Michiganders faced a double blow.
Things are looking up, though; Michigan's unemployment rate fell almost four percentage points since its rock bottom year in 2009, landing at the current rate of 10.9%. Many automakers are hiring once again, and while the situation isn't rosy, it is still an improvement from the past few years.
3. South Carolina -- 10.9% (Tie)
Even with a diversified economy, unemployment remains a problem in South Carolina. Like other states, manufacturing, including automobile manufacturing, has led to extensive job cuts. While the housing bubble hasn't impacted home prices in South Carolina as drastically as other areas, it has impacted new-home construction, with contractors hesitant to build new homes.
Other industries in the area that have seen high job losses include trade, professional services, leisure and hospitality, utilities and transportation.
2. California -- 12%
Declines in manufacturing, construction and real estate have severely impacted California's economy. A sudden halt in home building created a ripple effect that spread across the employment landscape to impact construction workers, equipment rental and leasing companies, architects and mortgage lenders.
California is also dealing with a water supply shortage which has led to layoffs in the agriculture sector. Manufacturing, construction, real estate and agriculture make up 33% of the state's economy.
1. Nevada -- 12.9%
After enjoying one of the fastest growing economies and lowest unemployment rates for two decades, Nevada went from first to worst in unemployment.
The housing bubble decimated Nevada's construction economy, costing the state thousands of jobs. The recession also hurt discretionary spending across the country, which translated to fewer tourists flocking to Nevada's many casinos and attractions, including Las Vegas, Reno, Lake Tahoe and Laughlin.