Jobs Recovery Nationally Showing Promise, But Maine Still Lags Far Behind

Today’s national jobs report highlights an important milestone. As a nation, we have recovered 101 percent of jobs lost during the recession. Clearly we are headed in the right direction but the recovery – especially here in Maine – is far from complete.

For starters, as our colleagues at the Economic Policy Institute point out, while we’ve recovered more than 100 percent of jobs lost, we’ve also grown our population since the recession began. We’re still short of where we need to be to achieve comparable pre-recession levels of employment.

Another important concern is that while we’ve added jobs, they aren’t necessarily the same jobs that were lost. Some sectors like construction are still lagging behind pre-recession employment levels. Others like health care continued to add jobs throughout the recession. The New York Times posted an excellent set of charts that depict these trends.

Finally, the wage distribution of available jobs pre- and post-recession appears to be shifting. We’ve recovered more low-wage jobs and fewer mid-wage jobs. We also appear to have recovered higher paying jobs in certain sectors like finance and professional services.

How these dynamics are playing out in Maine is less clear. What we do know is that our jobs recovery is not nearly as robust as the national recovery. While the U.S. has recovered 101 percent of lost jobs based on today’s national data release, Maine has only recovered 48 percent through April 2014 based on the most recently available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By contrast, New England as a region has recovered 104 percent during the same time period. Among the 50 states, Maine ranks 46th in jobs recovered since the bottom of the recession.

Jobs Recovery 6-6-2014

Across all states, just five, Maine, Mississippi, New Jersey, Alabama, and New Mexico, have recovered 50 percent or fewer of jobs lost from their pre-recession peak. Eleven states have recovered 75 to 50 percent; 17 have recovered 75 to 100 percent; and 17 have recovered more than 100 percent. The top states, North Dakota, Alaska, and Texas, are all beneficiaries of domestic oil and gas production.

Jobs-Recovery-By-State-through-April-2014Another way to look at the recovery is to chart the percentage change in jobs by state since the beginning of the recession. Some states like Nevada experienced deep job losses while other states like North Dakota did not. Maine is in the middle of the pack in terms of percentage job loss. What’s more telling is how states have rebounded. Maine has been slower to recover despite national trends.