Express Releases State-by-State Analysis of Labor Force Participation Rates

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Express Employment Professionals today released a new analysis of state labor force participation rates (LFPR), revealing which states have the highest and lowest percentage of people in the workforce.

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As someone who creates jobs for a living, I know a growing workforce is better for America than a shrinking workforce,

Express Employment Professionals today released a new analysis of state labor force participation rates (LFPR), revealing which states have the highest and lowest percentage of people in the workforce. The most recent state-by-state LFPR data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ December 2014 report. The national LFPR in December 2014 was 62.7 percent.

North Dakota has the highest LFPR at 71.6 percent. West Virginia has the lowest at 52.8 percent, which is 9.9 percentage points below the national average.

The higher the LFPR, the larger the size of the workforce, relative to the population. The lower the rate, the smaller the size of the workforce. Nationally, the LFPR has declined sharply in the last few years, hitting lows not seen since the 1970s. Roughly half of the decline is due to the retirement of the baby boomer generation. However, half is due to a large number of Americans who have given up hope of finding a job and have quit looking for work.

“As someone who creates jobs for a living, I know a growing workforce is better for America than a shrinking workforce,” said Bob Funk, CEO of Express, and a former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. “Low rates mean people have lost hope and given up looking for work. That’s not good for the economy and it’s not good for our country. Policy makers need to take the drop in the LFPR more seriously – it’s a national problem.”

Twenty-two states have an LFPR that is lower than the national average, while 28 states and the District of Columbia have an LFPR that is greater than or equal to the national average.

The 10 Highest Labor Force Participation Rates:

1.    North Dakota - 71.6
2.    Nebraska - 70.8
3.    Iowa - 70.4
4.    Minnesota - 70.0
5.    South Dakota - 69.5
6.    District of Columbia - 69.5
7.    New Hampshire - 69.0
8.    Wisconsin - 68.5
9.    Vermont     - 68.4
10.    Wyoming - 68.1

The 10 Lowest Labor Force Participation Rates:

51.    West Virginia - 52.8
50.     Mississippi - 54.6
49.    Alabama - 55.3
48.    Arkansas - 57.6
47.    Kentucky - 57.9
46.    New Mexico - 57.9
45.    South Carolina - 58.4
44.    Tennessee - 58.4
43.     North Carolina - 59.8
42.    Arizona - 59.9

“It’s stunning to think there are some states where almost half of the people aren’t in the work force,” Funk said. “On the other hand, you have states where almost three-quarters are in the labor force. Express has been sounding the alarm about low labor force participation for almost two years, and clearly, it’s a bigger problem in some states than in others.”

State-by-State Rates, Low to High:

West Virginia - 52.8     
Mississippi - 54.6     
Alabama - 55.3     
Arkansas - 57.6     
Kentucky - 57.9     
New Mexico - 57.9     
South Carolina - 58.4     
Tennessee - 58.4     
North Carolina - 59.8     
Arizona - 59.9     
Michigan - 60.2     
New York - 60.2     
Florida - 60.3     
Oklahoma - 60.6     
Delaware - 61.2     
Louisiana - 61.5     
Oregon - 61.8     
Georgia - 61.9     
Hawaii - 62.0     
Nevada    62.1     
Pennsylvania - 62.1     
California - 62.5     
National Average - 62.7 (December 2014)
Idaho - 62.7     
Ohio - 62.9     
Washington - 63.5     
Indiana - 63.7     
Montana - 64.0     
Maine - 64.3     
New Jersey - 64.3     
Rhode Island - 64.7     
Illinois - 64.9     
Missouri - 64.9     
Texas - 64.9     
Massachusetts - 65.3     
Virginia - 65.6     
Maryland - 65.8     
Connecticut - 66.1     
Colorado - 67.6     
Utah - 67.6     
Alaska - 67.7     
Kansas - 68.0     
Wyoming - 68.1     
Vermont - 68.4     
Wisconsin - 68.6     
New Hampshire - 69.0     
District of Columbia - 69.5     
South Dakota - 69.5     
Minnesota - 70.0     
Iowa - 70.4     
Nebraska - 70.8     
North Dakota - 71.6     

State-by-state labor force data (seasonally adjusted), dating back to 1976 can be found at http://www.bls.gov/lau/ststdsadata.txt. At the time of release, the most recent available state level data came from December 2014.

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If you would like to arrange for an interview with Bob Funk to discuss this topic, please contact Sherry Kast at (405) 717-5966.

About Robert A. Funk
Robert A. “Bob” Funk is chairman and chief executive officer of Express Employment Professionals. Headquartered in Oklahoma City, the international staffing company has 725 franchises in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Under his leadership, Express has put more than five million people to work worldwide. Funk served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and was also the Chairman of the Conference of Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.

About Express Employment Professionals
Express Employment Professionals puts people to work. It generated more than $2.85 billion in sales and employed more than 456,000 people in 2014. Express ranks as the largest franchised staffing company and second largest privately held staffing company in the United States. Its long-term goal is to put a million people to work annually.

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Sherry Kast
@ExpressPros
since: 08/2008
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