Job growth may be inching up, but the economy is taking its own sweet time to recover. The good news? The percentage of employees who say their companies are hiring is increasing, according to Gallup’s October Job Creation Index, and the most regions — especially the South and Midwest — are showing improved job markets.
The not-so-good news? The economy still has a long way to go before jobs return to pre-Recession levels. How long depends on where you live, notes Wall Street Journal blogger Ben Casselman in his state-by-state look at the recovery of U.S. jobs.
States like Texas, South Dakota and Nebraska are well on their way to recovery, with employment expected to reach pre-Recession peaks by the end of the year, according to analysis by IHS Global Insight, which considers industry breakdown, population growth and demographics for each state.
For most states, the reality is much starker. It will take until 2015 for most of the U.S. to fully recover jobs, according to the IHS model. And in states with high unemployment like Nevada and California, it could be 2016 or later. Check out WSJ’s interactive map to find where your state is.
But is there any hope of reserving this trend? In whatever state you happen to live in, is there anything that can be done to create and grow jobs in the meantime?
Yes, but not just by focusing on recruiting a “golden goose” that can bring in thousands of jobs. Even in a bleak economy, states, regions and communities can spur job growth by finding ways to help retain and grow existing businesses, says site selection consultant Dean Barber in his latest blog.
“The single most important thing that a local economic development organization can do is to focus on bringing value in some form or fashion to existing industry,” Barber writes. “That’s where the money is. That’s where the jobs are.”
Keeping local businesses happy, helping them solve problems and empowering them to grow creates a hospitable environment that not only makes them want to stay in the area, but also attracts others, Barber points out. And understanding the needs of businesses at home helps economic development organizations target the right suppliers or recruit industries that complement what is already there.
One community that excels at this is Mt. Sterling, KY, a manufacturing town known for assisting its 32 industries with everything from repairing infrastructure to training employees. When one of Mt. Sterling’s biggest employers announced its relocation to another community, local leaders took action. Read about how they convinced the company to stay and kept 300-plus jobs from leaving the region.