14 States With The Most Job Growth

Last Updated May 25, 2011 10:08 AM EDT

With unemployment sitting at painfully high levels, four bucks a gallon for gas and the most recent GDP numbers coming in at an anemic sub-2-percent annualized rate, it doesn't feel like an economic recovery is underway. But it is. Really. At least that's what the jobs data say, according to a new report.

Private employers have now added more than 230,000 jobs for three months straight, and even if things got a bit sluggish in the first quarter, gross domestic product has grown for seven consecutive quarters. That's right: we're back to having a good-old-fashion economic expansion, folks -- albeit a stupendously slow and asymmetrical one, according to the latest report from the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee.

The most recent bit of sunny news: 42 states and the District of Columbia added private-sector jobs in April, led by New York, Texas and Pennsylvania. But before you start packing up your belongings and hitting the road like the Joads in The Grapes of Wrath, consider that the hiring picture looks a bit a different when you take the whole last year into account. (You also might consider what happened to the Joads.)

Besides, the housing crisis has made it harder for lots of folks to up and move in search of brighter job prospects, which is especially bad news since the states with the most private job creation over the last year happen to be located far and wide. Over the last 12 months, here are the top states for private (that is, non-government) hiring, according to the report:
  • Texas added 253,600 jobs
  • California added 203,400 jobs
  • New York added 98,300 jobs
  • Pennsylvania added 93,700 jobs
In other more promising news, 10 states enjoyed private-sector employment gains of 2 percent or more over the last year, according to the report:
  • North Dakota
  • Alaska
  • Texas
  • Oklahoma
  • Nebraska
  • Michigan
  • Arkansas
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • West Virginia
Indeed, of all 50 states plus D.C., only Kansas lost private-sector jobs in the past year.

Now for the glass-half-empty part: These private-sector jobs numbers need to accelerate if we're going to make a serious dent in unemployment and be on any kind of sure footing for a self-sustaining recovery. The Fed's latest round of money printing ends next month. The stock market is sure to be watching carefully to see whether the private sector really can pick up the slack and buy all those bonds that the Fed has been scooping up.
Photo courtesy of indiefox's photostream on Flickr.


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    Dan Burrows, a veteran of Aol's DailyFinance, SmartMoney and MarketWatch from Dow Jones, covers the markets and economy with an eye toward investing for the long haul.

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