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State Versus State

BLS numbers reveal jobs in proportion to state populations


Recent info from the Bureau of Labor Statistics could heat up existing state rivalries, as it provides competitive data for which U.S. states have the best employment ratios.



The winners? Some of the lesser heralded states in the nation. Nebraska had the highest proportion of employed people in 2022, 68.1 percent, followed by North Dakota, 67.8 percent. The District of Columbia had the highest annual average employment–population ratio in its history, 67.4 percent. West Virginia (52.5 percent) and Mississippi (52.7 percent) had the lowest employment–population ratios among the states. Overall, 23 states and the District had employment–population ratios higher than the U.S. ratio of 60.0 percent, 18 states had lower ratios, and 9 states had ratios that were not appreciably different from that of the nation.


In 2022, employment–population ratios increased in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Connecticut (3.6 percentage points) and the District (3.0 points) had the largest increases, with an additional nine states experiencing ratio increases of at least 2.0 points. Three states—Maine, South Carolina, and Wisconsin—had employment–population ratios that decreased over the past year.

These data are from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics program. To learn more, see “Regional and State Unemployment – 2022 Annual Averages.” The employment–population ratio is the proportion of the civilian population age 16 years and older who are employed.

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