In a report issued this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Midwestern states showed the highest ratios of people employed in relation to the population of the state compared to the rest of the nation.
North Dakota had the highest employment-population ratio with 70.8 percent. Other Midwestern states with high ratios included Nebraska with 68.9 percent, Iowa with 67.3 percent, Minnesota with 67 percent, and South Dakota with 66.9 percent. A total of nine states in the region had comparatively higher ratios than the rest of the country. The report was compiled from unemployment data from the U.S. Department of Labor based on annual averages for 2014.
The bureau said the annual average employment–population ratios rose in 35 states and the District of Columbia, and declined in 12 states. Three states were unchanged. In regard to the largest gainers, Hawaii and Indiana showed the greatest year-over-year gains with 1.4 percentage point increases each.
West Virginia posted the lowest employment-population ratio in the nation with 49.7 percent.
It’s not surprising that the Midwest garners large employment ratios. In January, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago’s “Midwest Economy Index” rose to 0.52 in November from a prior reading of 0.36 in October. The index is composed of 129 indicators, the bank said the gain was driven by increases in consumer spending and manufacturing as well as strength in the services and construction sectors.
Earlier this month, Chicago — in the heart of the Midweat — was named the “top metro” site for corporate investment by Site Selection magazine. The publication noted the Chicago area’s explosive expansion of corporate headquarters and facilities.
That’s terrific news for retailers in the region since jobs in manufacturing and corporate facilities tend to be higher paying positions with households that also have more disposable income.
Still, the bureau continues to forecast low-paying jobs as the greatest growth area across the country. Nationwide, the highest employment levels are “retail salespersons” positions followed by “cashiers” — which collectively total over 8 million workers. Combined “food preparation” and “food service” workers are the next largest group.