Formerly Industrial Belt States Lag Nation in Blue Collar Job Growth

Five states saw a significant increase in total non-farm employment in June. Massachusetts led the way, with an increase of 0.6 percent from May to June or an additional 21,400 jobs. Tennessee saw an increase of 0.4 percent or 13,000 jobs. Georgia, Illinois and North Carolina all saw an increase of 0.3 percent or 14,200, 18,100 and 13,200 jobs respectively. West Virginia experienced a falloff in jobs at -1.1 percent (-8,000 jobs) followed by Arkansas at -0.5 percent or -1,800 jobs.

The number of blue collar jobs in construction, manufacturing and mining and logging combined grew overall with an increase of 0.3 percent in employment from May to June. That total is up 3.1 percent since June of last year for an increase of 624,000 jobs. Employment in the states in the region formerly known as the industrial belt (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Wisconsin) continues to trail the national trend with the region adding 12,400 jobs, an increase of 0.2 percent for the month. Compared with last year, blue collar employment in the region is up by 2.1 percent or 122,900 jobs compared with a 3.1 percent nationwide.

North Dakota blue collar employment grew by 2.2 percent, or 1,200 jobs for the month, boosted by a 3.4 percent increase in construction. Over the course of the year, the biggest increase in total blue collar employment was in Nevada with 12,500 jobs, an increase of 8.6 percent. This was largely due to growth in nondurable goods. The number of jobs in manufacturing is now 8.9 percent above the prerecession level. Alaska saw a 1.4 percent falloff (600 jobs) in blue collar jobs from May to June followed by West Virginia at almost -1.0 percent or 1,000 jobs. Though West Virginia saw an increase in total nonfarm employment, job growth lags behind the national trend. Total employment in the state is still 9,200 below the prerecession level.

Following North Dakota in the construction sector, Arizona added 3,100 jobs an increase of around 2.0 percent while Arkansas added 1,000 jobs for an increase of 1.9 percent. West Virginia saw the largest percentage decrease in construction jobs at -2.1 percent followed by South Carolina at -1.6 percent.

In manufacturing, New Mexico saw the largest one-month percentage growth in jobs at 1.5 percent (400 jobs). This was followed by North Dakota at 1.2 percent or 300 jobs and Wyoming at 1.0 percent. Regionally, employment in manufacturing was relatively flat except for the Northeast, which saw an increase of 0.6 percent or 3,400 jobs. The states that saw the largest losses were West Virginia at -1.1 percent and Hawaii at -1.4 percent. Over the year, Hawaii has lost 3.5 percent of the state’s manufacturing jobs.

In mining and logging, Texas employment increased by 1.9 percent or 4,900 jobs. Over the course of the year, the number of jobs in the sector has grown by 15 percent, or 33,000 jobs. The majority of these have been in support services for mining. North Dakota has also seen considerable growth in this sector over the course of the year at 14.3 percent or 2,600 jobs. These increases reflect the rise in world oil prices which makes production in these areas more profitable.

In all three blue collar categories the former industrial belt region continues to trail the national trends. Employment grew by 0.1 percent in the region compared with 0.2 percent nationally (3.6 percent compared with 4.1 percent for the year). In manufacturing, employment in the former industrial belt states was 0.2 percent higher in June, compared with 0.3 percent for the country as a whole (1.5 percent compared with 2.3 percent over the last year). In mining and logging, the number of jobs in the industrial belt was unchanged for the month, compared with an increase of 0.5 percent nationally. For the year, jobs in the sector are up 4.4 percent compared to 8.4 percent nationally. Coal mining added 100 jobs nationwide.