The national economy continues to recover slowly. The unemployment rate sits at 6.7 percent. Labor force participation is low by historical standards. Long-term unemployment is a national crisis.
But that’s what things look like nationall. Conditions vary a ton state by state. For instance, the unemployment rate is just 2.6 percent in North Dakota and 3.4 percent in Vermont, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Go out to California, though, and the unemployment rate is 8.1 percent. Rhode Island has the highest unemployment rate in the country at 8.7 percent.
One idea economists have suggested to help the long-term unemployed—that is, those out of work more than six months—is to offer them financial assistance to move to some of these states and areas with low unemployment. This would create a more flexible labor market and allow unemployed workers, particularly the long-term unemployed, to move to areas where there are fewer job seekers. Not everyone can move to North Dakota and find a job of course. The labor market is small there and an influx of long-term unemployed workers would send the state’s unemployment rate skyrocketing. But it could help on the margins. Given the magnitude of the crisis of the long-term unemployed, it’s worth a shot.
Check out the best (and worst) states for the unemployed to move to in this map: