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States where workers see hiring increasing

Another sign North Dakota is going through boom times.

By Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter, 24/7 Wall St.

Companies across the country are hiring more workers, at least that's the case if you ask their employees. In 2011, 31 percent of U.S. workers reported that their employers were hiring, according to Gallup’s Job Creation Index. Only 18 percent said that their employers were laying workers off. Of course, residents of some states report much higher rates of job creation than others. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the Gallup Index, as well as a number of other economic indicators, and identified the eight states where residents think companies are hiring most.

To develop the Job Creation Index, Gallup asked those surveyed whether companies are hiring or letting employees go. While the national score reflects that most states believe employers are hiring, 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis suggests that self-reporting by workers may not perfectly align with reality.

These states are not experiencing the greatest recoveries -- including in employment -- as they have little to recover from. The states’ strong economies may be affecting their residents’ perception of the economy. Five of the eight states on this list are among the top nine states on another recent Gallup poll ranking states’ confidence in the national economy. Those who live in states that are doing well see the entire country as doing well.

The majority of states where high percentages of workers reported job creation also have extremely low unemployment rates to begin with. Six of the eight states have among the 10 lowest unemployment rates in the country. North Dakota, the state where the largest share of workers reported that their employers are hiring, has the lowest unemployment rate in the country.

And while unemployment rates are low, the majority of these states have had relatively low unemployment rates for some time. Most did not have particularly impressive improvements in unemployment last year. Other than Utah and West Virginia -- the only states with exceptionally large drops in unemployment -- the rest have had low unemployment rates since 2006 and throughout the recession.

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Housing markets in most of the states where respondents believe jobs are plentiful also have been stable. Seven of the eight states on the list are among the 15 markets that suffered the least from the third quarter of 2006 to the third quarter of 2011. Five of the states actually experienced increases in home prices over this period.

These are the eight states where workers say companies are hiring.

1. North Dakota

  • Job creation index: 34
  • Unemployment rate (Dec. 2011): 3.3 percent (the lowest)
  • Change in unemployment (Dec. 2010 - Dec. 2011): -13.16 percent
  • Change in home prices (2006 Q3 - 2011 Q3): 16.8 percent (the largest increase)

North Dakota has the highest job creation rate in the country by a huge margin. More than two in five residents, or 42.4 percent, report their employers are hiring -- the largest share among all states. Only 8.2 percent of workers say their employers are letting people go, which is by far the smallest percentage. The state also has the lowest unemployment rate in the country of 3.3 percent, nearly unchanged from the state’s prerecession unemployment rate of 3.2 percent in December 2006. North Dakota’s home prices have also increased 16.8 percent since the third quarter of 2006 -- the nation’s largest increase. The state has little to “recover” from.

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2. Iowa

  • Job creation index: 21
  • Unemployment rate (Dec. 2011): 5.6 percent (6th lowest)
  • Change in unemployment (Dec. 2010 - Dec. 2011): -8.2 percent
  • Change in home prices (2006 Q3 - 2011 Q3): 0.4 percent (7th largest increase)

While sister Midwest states North and South Dakota have fared slightly better during the recession, Iowa has not been far behind. Between Q3 2006 and Q3 2011, home prices increased 0.4 percent, the seventh-biggest gain in the U.S. As of December 2011, the unemployment rate in the state was just 5.6 percent, the sixth-lowest rate in the country. According to Gallup’s job creation poll, 34 percent of state workers report their businesses are hiring. Nationally, that rate is just 31.5 percent.

3. Oklahoma

  • Job creation index: 21
  • Unemployment rate (Dec. 2011): 6.1 percent (10th lowest)
  • Change in unemployment (Dec. 2010 - Dec. 2011): -10.3 percent
  • Change in home prices (2006 Q3 - 2011 Q3): 3.5 percent (5th largest increase)

Oklahoma made it through the worst parts of the recession largely unscathed. Home prices increased 3.5 percent from the third quarter of 2006 to the third quarter of 2011. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate also remained below the national average. While it did not significantly decrease last year, falling from 6.8 percent at the beginning of last year to 6.1 percent by December 2011, it was notably lower than the national rate of 8.5 percent at the time. Still, 34.6 percent of Oklahoma residents report their employers are hiring workers.

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4. Utah

  • Job creation index: 20
  • Unemployment rate (Dec. 2011): 6.0 percent (9th lowest)
  • Change in unemployment (Dec. 2010 - Dec. 2011): -20.0 percent
  • Change in home prices (2006 Q3 - 2011 Q3): -16.2 percent (20th largest decrease)

During the housing crisis, home prices in Utah dropped 16.2 percent, the 20th-biggest decline. However, real estate prices are starting to rebound. According to Fiserv-Case Shiller, home prices will increase 1.5 percent by the third quarter of next year, the seventh-biggest projected increase in the country. In the past year, Utah has seen one of the biggest improvements in unemployment. Between December 2010 and December 2011, the unemployment rate fell by 20 percent to just 6 percent. This drop was the second biggest of any state, behind only North Dakota. According to the Gallup’s job creation survey, 15.4 percent of Utah workers report employers are letting workers go compared to a national rate of 18.4 percent.

States 5 to 8 where workers see hiring increasing at 24/7 Wall St.'s website.