Most U.S. states trail pre-recession job levels

Most U.S. states trail pre-recession job levels

WASHINGTON — Three years since the recession ended, 43 states have yet to regain the jobs they lost in the downturn. The figure is a reminder of how weak the nation's job market remains.

The states that are the furthest behind in job growth are those that were hit hardest by the housing bust: Arizona, Florida and Nevada.

Overall, the U.S. economy has 3.5 percent fewer jobs than it did before the Great Recession, which began in December 2007. The national unemployment rate has been stuck at 8.2 percent.

Oregon's unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 8.5 percent for June. The unemployment rate was 8.4 percent in May.

As slow as the recovery in jobs has been, a few states are doing quite well. Seven have more jobs now than before the recession. Some — North Dakota, Texas and Alaska — are benefiting from an oil boom.

"Except for these energy-producing states, everywhere there's still this caution in terms of hiring," Steve Cochrane, a regional economist at Moody's Analytics, said.

Last month, unemployment rates rose in 27 U.S. states, the most in nearly a year.

Nevada had the nation's highest unemployment rate in June at 11.6 percent. The state also had 12.4 percent fewer jobs than before the recession, the biggest percentage of jobs lost of any state.

Arizona also has struggled to regain the jobs it lost, with 8.2 percent fewer in June than before the recession. That's the second-biggest loss. Florida had 7.8 percent fewer jobs, the third-biggest decline.

Despite the weak job market, seven states have regained the jobs they lost during the recession.

North Dakota is by far the best. It had 15.7 percent more jobs in June than it did in December 2007. It also had the nation's lowest jobless rate at 2.9 percent.

Alaska had 3.8 percent more jobs in June than before the recession began, the second-largest gain, and Texas had 2.4 percent more jobs in June than before the recession, or third best.

The other states that have regained all their lost jobs are: New York, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and South Dakota.

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