Capitol Research

In May 2016, the national unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, which is the lowest rate in eight years. The unemployment rate was 5 percent when the Great Recession began in December 2007, and it peaked in October 2009 at 10 percent.

Recognizing the challenge of financing and completing needed infrastructure projects, several states in 2016 approved legislation that allows them to enter into public-private partnerships (P3s). But P3 legislation has not always guaranteed quick success in moving projects forward and some states without P3 legislation have been able to explore P3s nonetheless. A number of other states have taken steps in recent years to clarify their goals and procedures with regards to P3 projects. These actions are taking place as the universe of P3 infrastructure projects around the country is expanding well beyond toll roads.

In 2007, Washington became the first state to ban texting while driving. Nine years later, 46 states and the District of Columbia have passed bans. Driver distraction is a leading factor in many crashes and texting is one of the most common distractions. Despite the risks, many drivers admit to distracted driving and the problem is particularly pervasive for young drivers.

The U.S. spends more on health care than any other country and that has a big impact on jobs in the health care field. Employment in the health care field has grown significantly in recent years and will likely continue to grow at a strong pace in the next decade.

With Hillary Clinton poised to make history as the first female presidential nominee from a major party, it is noteworthy that women are still underrepresented in state government leadership positions. In 2016, women make up less than one-quarter of state legislators and statewide elected executive officers, and less than one-third of all state court judges. The percentage of female state legislators has largely stalled over the last 20 years, while the number of women elected to statewide executive offices has fallen. Only the number of female state judges has seen significant increases in recent years.