Those are deltas over the last year. You have to look at where they were then and where they are now relative to other states. Wyoming, for example, currently has an unemployment rate of 4.8%. So the fact that it went *up* last year isn't exactly a disaster. Maine and Wisconsin are ranked 24th and 29th respectively. So none of them doing horribly.
The chart is illustrating job growth from state to state over the last year.
Regardless of their unemployment rate before April-2012, three states failed to create any jobs and in fact lost jobs. ie they didn't grow economically, they contracted.
Right. But job creation isn't the same nationwide. Another way of looking at it is that maybe those three states experienced increased job growth a year or two ago, while other states didn't. Now those other states are catching up, while they're bouncing back a bit. What matters is the resulting unemployment rate, not the deltas, and certainly not deltas over such a short period of time.
If state A and state B both start with 8% unemployment in year 0, then state A drops its unemployment by 3.5% in year 1, while state A stays the same (so A is at 4.5%, while state B is at 8%), then in year 2, state A's unemployment increased by .5%, while state B drops by 3%, which state is better off? Both are the same. If you look at the two year change, both decreased unemployment by 3% from 8% to 5%. The fact that they took slightly different routes getting there isn't something we can say is relevant just by looking at the last year delta.
Now if state A continues to lose jobs while state B grains them *then* you can declare some kind of problem for state A. Numbers like these could easily be explained by some states spending more on job creation in past years and less last year, while others did the opposite. There's just not enough data just in that one year delta for us to assume anything significant about the "why" question. Edited, Jun 19th 2013 6:45pm by gbaji