February 2022 State Job Gains: Tight Labor Market Keeps Talent Acquisition in High Demand

March 28, 2022
Author: Mallory Vachon, Ph.D., Sr. Economist

The economy added 678,000 jobs in February, capping off an impressive stretch of growth. Since January 2021, the economy has added an average of 562,000 jobs each month, nearly triple the average of 190,000 jobs per month from 2015 through 2019.

State employment numbers are reported a few weeks after their national counterpart, and the February numbers released March 25, 2022 highlight key trends.

State Job Gains | February 2022

Top states account for two-thirds of national hires. The top states for hiring in February – California, Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia and Washington –added a total of 457,900 jobs, around two-thirds of national job gains.

Tight labor market persists. Nationally, the unemployment rate sits at 3.8%, not much higher than the pre-pandemic unemployment rate of 3.5%. Looking back from 2015 through just before the pandemic, unemployment rates averaged around 4.4%, so current numbers signal just how tight the labor market is, and the pool of available talent is not getting much bigger. Businesses in states with lower unemployment rates – like Florida, Georgia and Virginia – will feel the talent crunch more than others and need to look to other areas or rely on remote work to fill open roles.

Record-low unemployment. Unemployment rates – measuring those who are not currently working and are looking for a job – reached record lows in nine states: Arkansas, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Utah and West Virginia.

Comeback for hardest-hit states. States that were hardest hit in the early months of the pandemic – including California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia – are making progress toward recovery with job gains topping 20,000 in February. And California led the nation with 138,100 jobs added, nearly double Texas’ 77,800 jobs.

Two States Lose Jobs. Alaska and Arkansas were the only states to lose jobs in February.

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