Small Business Employment Still Volatile, Report Finds

Former small business employment powerhouses California, Nevada and Florida have shed nearly 1.7 million jobs since 2005, just one of the disturbing trends uncovered by a review of the nation's small business employment market.

A five-year review of small business employment trends across the U.S. found the recent-half decade took a toll on most parts of the country. Conducted by the small business news website, the review analyzed private-sector short- and long-term employment patterns across the country, using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the past five years with the objective to determine the relative economic strength of the nation's 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The report found forty states had fewer jobs in May 2010 than five years earlier and the nation lost a total of 4.51 million private-sector positions between mid-2005 and mid-2010. North Dakota topped the list with the nation's strongest economy at the moment, followed by Alaska in second place, due to an expansion in their employment bases, adding 21,3000 jobs and 10,100 jobs from 2005 to 2010, respectively.

On the other end of the ranking, Nevada, California and Florida have the nation's weakest economies in what the review termed a "stunning reversal" from half a decade ago when Nevada and Florida finished first and second, respectively, and California in 11th place in 2005's mid year review. Collectively, Nevada, California and Florida have lost 1.69 million jobs since 2005 and have double-digit unemployment rates.

"The economic recession hit the nation hard and the number of unemployed Americans in major states like California and Nevada has been on the rise," explained editor J. Jennings Moss. "We hope that this study will provide helpful information for individuals on locations that offer the most job opportunities."

The study found that states located across the nation's heartland, like South Dakota (fourth place), Nebraska (sixth), and Utah (10th) were less affected by the severity of the economic recession, likely attributed to affordable housing. The other leaders - D.C. (fifth), New York (eighth) and New Hampshire (ninth) - come from the Northeast. States hovering at the bottom of the list include Michigan (48th place), Rhode Island (47th) Georgia (46th), Ohio (45th) and Arizona (44th). Their declines were attributed to varying combinations of real-estate woes, slowdowns in construction and tourism sectors, and slippage in manufacturing output, especially within the auto industry.

"Several factors turned these three states into laggards during the past five years, notably the deflation of their hyperextended real-estate bubbles and a sharp downturn in tourism," said G. Scott Thomas, a demographer who creates the analyses for "The employment bases of these bottom states have eroded at an alarming pace. California's loss of 950,300 private-sector jobs since 2005 is the equivalent of losing 520 jobs every day for five years. For Florida, it equals 350 jobs per day and Michigan's is 280 per day."