Washington D.C. and energy-and-commodity-producing states dominated the best job markets in the first half of 2011, as they did during the same period in 2010, according to Gallup’s Job Creation Index, released today. North Dakota leads the pack, followed closely by the nation’s capital.
In contrast, the finance states of the Northeast and the housing states of the West have the worst job markets in the nation:
Overall, job market conditions improved in 2011, with the Index at +13 nationwide, compared with +7 for all of 2010. And even though eight states that are in the bottom 10 during the first half of 2011 were also in that group during the first half of 2010, the average score of the bottom 10 states improved significantly.
Still, the Index summary sounds a pessimistic note about the future of job markets across the country, citing numerous new obstacles to energy production, starting with the increased economic regulations that followed on the heels of last year’s Gulf oil spill — regulations Gallup chief economist Dennis Jacobe speculates might be the reason Texas and Louisiana — both of which were in the top 10 last year — dropped out of the top 10 this year. Additionally, Jacobe mentions the slowing global economy and likely consequential decrease in the demand for energy as a factor likely to reduce job growth in the last stalwart states.
Global demand might not be in policymakers’ hands, but regulatory obstacles are. Jacobe states bluntly, “One thing the U.S. could do to stimulate job growth going forward would be to place more emphasis on expanding the nation’s energy and commodity sectors.” The House has already passed legislation to ease burdens on energy producers, but those bills have stalled in the Senate. Somehow, though, I strongly suspect President Obama’s September jobs speech won’t include an exhortation to the Senate to pass such sensible legislation. If the president mentions energy production at all, it will probably be in the context of lamenting tax breaks for “oil company executives.”