Book of the States Regional Analysis

The Council of State Governments continues a long tradition of "sharing capitol ideas” with the upcoming publication of the 2013 edition of The Book of the States. The Book of the States has been the reference tool of choice since 1935, providing relevant, accurate and timely information, answers and comparisons for all 56 states, commonwealths and territories of the United States.  

The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy.   There are four regions: East, Midwest, South, and West. 

Click the links below to access additional Book of the States analysis on a regional basis. 

The labor force participation rate has been on the decline for more than a decade and the rate of decline has increased since the Great Recession began in December 2007. The likelihood of someone not participating in the labor force, as well as the reason for not participating, often depends on a person’s age. Participation rates vary significantly across states and regions, with a range of nearly 20 percentage points between the lowest and highest states.

Voters decided 186 ballot propositions in 39 states in 2012, approving 63 percent of them. The electorate swung to the left on some issues, with potential breakthrough victories for advocates of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington, and same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland and Washington. Other high-profile issues included taxes, the death penalty and illegal immigration.

Almost every state in every region experienced increased poverty since The Great Recession. The only exceptions were North Dakota – where the mining boom has taken the state by storm – and the Southern states of Alabama, Mississippi and Oklahoma, where one might argue poverty couldn’t get much worse. Children continue to experience higher rates of poverty than the general population and seniors over 65 are considerably less likely to be poor. Regionally, the East and Midwest had lower poverty rates that the South and West.

The number of employees in state and local governments has been declining since 2008 and represents the largest contraction of public employment in more than 30 years. The loss of jobs in the public sector would have been much more accelerated had it not been for a marked increase in federal aid—primarily the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped preserve a significant number of state and local jobs for several years. Those funds are now gone and, while private sector employment has been recovering slowly, many state and local governments continue to cut the number of people they employ.

Many states have exhausted their unemployment trust funds—the funds from which states pay unemployment benefits—due to high unemployment rates and the extended length of time many people have been without work. More than half of states have borrowed from the federal government to cover costs, which may impact future fiscal stability.

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