How State Economies Compare On One Revealing Jobs Measure

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How State Economies Compare On One Revealing Jobs Measure

By Mike Maciag

One of the most telling measures of a state’s economy is the employment-to-population ratio for those in their prime-working years. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that an average of 77.9 percent of Americans between the ages of 25 and 54 were employed in 2016. That’s an improvement from a few years ago. But federal data released last week suggests several states, particularly in the South, are lagging behind. Economists consider the prime-working age employment-to-population ratio a fairly reliable economic indicator that doesn’t suffer from the same obvious shortcomings of more commonly cited measures. The unemployment rate, for instance, doesn’t factor in those who’ve given up their search for work. Meanwhile, retiring baby boomers and increasing college enrollment somewhat skew the total employment-to-population ratio for all individuals. Nationally, the share of prime working-age adults who were employed fell 4.9 percentage points from the start of the recession to late 2010, when it bottomed out. It has since inched back up, but slowly. The Labor Department’s latest estimate of 78.2 percent for January suggests the economy has recovered about two-thirds from pre-recession levels. Wisconsin (85.7 percent) and Nebraska (85.5 percent) posted the highest ratios of any state last year. Not too far behind were Iowa, Minnesota and few other states mostly in the Midwest. Continue reading and view data for your state

The Mythical Link Between Immigrants and High Crime Rates

By Mike Maciag

Much of the debate surrounding the federal crackdown on undocumented immigrants centers on the notion that they pose a threat to public safety. It’s a viewpoint that has persisted for years, long before Donald Trump made it a hallmark of his presidential campaign and began signing executive orders ramping up immigration enforcement. A large body of research, however, finds no link between immigration and high crime rates, with some studies suggesting places with more immigrants actually enjoy slightly lower crime rates. Still, critics often contend that illegal immigration leads to more crime as research has generally failed to distinguish such individuals from the vast majority of legal immigrants who’ve been vetted by authorities. To shed light on this contention, Governing conducted an analysis using recently released metro area population estimates from the Pew Research Center for “unauthorized immigrants” — people who crossed the border illegally or overstayed visas. The analysis not only found no link with violent crime, but indicated concentrations of unauthorized immigrants were associated with marginally lower violent crime rates. A statistically significant negative correlation was also shown for property crimes. For every 1 percentage-point increase in the unauthorized immigrant share of a metro area’s population, average property crime rates dropped by 94 incidents per 100,000 residents. Continue reading story
Read full analysis


How Many Jobs Can Governors Take Credit for Creating?

A First in Decades, More Businesses Are Closing Than Opening in Most Metro Areas

With Less State Aid, Localities Look for Ways to Cope


Average Metro Area Commute Times

Use our data tool to see how commute times compare for different modes of transportation.



Job salaries, wage data by metro area.

Public Workforce

Updated state government employment and payroll totals


Review current and historical state tax collection data.


View migration patterns for your county.


Compare updated high school graduation rates for states.


Emergency room wait times for each state.


Metro area average commute times by mode of transportation


Our map shows updated same-sex marriage laws for states.

Public Safety and Justice

Police department demographic data.


View coverage on broadband availability, including detailed data for U.S. counties.


Read results of Governing’s latest workforce survey.

View more data
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