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New State Jobs Numbers Show Continued Need For Aid to States

Our guest blogger is Luke Reidenbach, a Research Assistant for Economic Policy at American Progress.

Last week, the BLS released the newest jobs figures for states and territories, and thirty-three states had job growth in the month of March. Exactly one year ago, there was not a single state that had job growth. This stark contrast is yet another indication that the jobs situation is improving thanks to the Obama administration’s efforts to stabilize the economy and financial sector.

But Friday’s data also show unacceptably high unemployment rates and uneven employment gains across states, highlighting the significant need for continued action. States such Indiana and Maryland have been seeing recent employment expansion, adding 19,900 and 19,300 jobs respectively in the last three months. Other states that have seen such job growth have South Carolina, Alaska, and West Virginia.

But some states aren’t doing so well. States like Michigan, Nevada, and Florida are still losing large amounts of jobs, each losing 9,500, 7,100, and 4,000 just this month. Other states are starting to show improvement, but have a much longer ways to go to fill the massive gap left by the recession. Take California, for instance. Since payrolls started to decline in July 2007, it has lost 1.3 million jobs, an 8.9 percent decline. Though it has started seeing job growth in the past few months, adding over 4,000 jobs this month, California nevertheless faces a difficult situation to come out of such a large hole.

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Meanwhile, the recession has put tremendous strain on state budgets, forcing them to make hard cuts that jeopardize the strength of recovery. CBPP notes that such budgetary strains have already led 45 states to slash services in 2009 and 2010, including services for the most vulnerable.

That states will need additional support is clear. But conservative members of Congress have so far given no indication that they are willing to provide this support. Instead they have been misapplying their selective worrying about the deficit to consistently delay crucial benefits like unemployment insurance from reaching those who need it. Or even worse, threatening to repeal measures that have already proven effective. Yesterday, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) threatened to “repeal” the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Such threats do not bode well for future efforts to protect state and local jobs. Continuing to undermine effective recovery efforts like unemployment insurance or the stimulus package is also economically dangerous and jeopardizes the prospect for widespread growth. As the economy recovers from the severe recession, ensuring that states have the resources they need will be crucial.

Legislation like Local Jobs for America Act, introduced by Rep. George Miller (D-CA), would create approximately 1 million jobs by providing $100 billion in funds over two years to protect state and local government jobs and create local government and nonprofit sector jobs. Rather than making cheap political points, lawmakers should address the employment situation seriously and help ensure that every state fully recovers from the devastating impact of the recession.