God Bless Texas… and North Dakota, and Utah.
Texas led all the states in February with an 80,600 increase in net hiring, the biggest gain since the U.S. Labor Department started keeping records in 1982, figures released on March 29 showed. Employment in the energy-rich Lone Star State has increased by 3.7 percent in the 12 months through February, more than double the 1.7 percent gain in national payroll growth.
Only North Dakota and Utah have registered bigger percentage advances than Texas in job creation over the last year. Employment in North Dakota, home to the Bakken formation that’s the nucleus of the nation’s current energy boom, has climbed by 5.7 percent. The state also has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate at 3.3 percent, versus 7.7 percent for the entire U.S.
In Utah, payrolls were up 4.5 percent in the year ended in February. Trade, transportation, leisure and hospitality and professional and business services are industries showing increases in employment, according to the Beehive State’s Department of Workforce Services. Utah’s jobless rate was 5.2 percent in February.
While state and local employment data are derived independently from the Labor Department’s national statistics, the rates of job growth in 20 of the 50 states have exceeded that of the U.S. as a whole.
Taxes and regulatory policies may be shaping the progress some states are making.
George Mason University’s Mercatus Center on March 28 released its Freedom in the 50 States Index. The group’s measure of economic freedom, which scores fiscal and regulatory policy from tax burdens and government spending to labor regulation and tort systems across the country, showed North Dakota (#2), Utah (#8) and Texas (#14) in the Top 15.
Fourteen of the 20 states with more robust employment than the national payrolls data are ranked in the Mercatus Center’s Top 25 for economic freedom. Nineteen of the remaining 30 states are in the bottom half. New York (#50), California (#49) and New Jersey (#48) have the least economic freedom and their jobless rates are above the national average.