According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate for those with less than a high school diploma was11 percent in 2013 - nearly 4 percentage points higher than the national average and almost triple the unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree. 

In 2013, the rate of unemployment among U.S. military veterans lowered but remains much higher than the national data for civilians.   Those veterans who joined the military after September 11, 2001 had an average unemployment rate of 9.0 percent which was down from 9.9 percent in 2012.  However, the U.S. Labor Department reported this was 1.6 percentage points higher than the rate for civilians.

During and after the recession, many states 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. At its peak in 2010, 31 states plus the Virgin Islands were borrowing nearly $40 billion. That number is down dramatically: as of April 23, 2014, 17 states plus the Virgin Islands had balances on their loans totaling $21.9 billion.

During the Great Recession, states faced enormous challenges related to funding a number of vital programs. One of those programs was adequately financing their unemployment insurance trust funds, a program that originated in the 1930s. As a result of the doggedly high unemployment rates in so many states during the Great Recession and previous actions taken by states (such as expanding unemployment benefits and cutting unemployment insurance taxes), the unemployment insurance funds in a majority of the states were thrust into perilous shape. By 2013, the funding position of these funds improved as a result of an advancing economy and a series of actions initiated by states.

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In Minnesota, state legislators have created a new program to better help displaced workers turn a lost job into an entrepreneurial opportunity. Meanwhile, that state and a growing number of others in the Midwest are trying to keep more people from losing their jobs in the first place — by reworking unemployment-insurance programs in ways that encourage employers not to lay off workers when business is slow, but to instead reduce their hours.

In December 2013, the national unemployment rate fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest level in five years. After hitting a post-recessionary high of 10 percent in October 2009, the unemployment rate has fallen slowly and steadily, but remains nearly 2 percentage points higher than it was when the recession began in December 2007. In December 2013, North Dakota (2.6 percent), South Dakota (3.6 percent) and Nebraska (3.6 percent) had the lowest unemployment rates, while Rhode Island (9.1 percent), Nevada (8.8 percent), and Illinois (8.6 percent) had the highest rates.

During and after the recession, many states 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. At its peak in 2010, 31 states plus the Virgin Islands were borrowing nearly $41 billion. That number is down dramatically: as of January 30, 2014, 15 states had balances on their loans totaling $21.7 billion.

In his 2014 State of the Union speech, Pres. Obama called out unemployment as a continuing problem and called on the private sector to help in giving those considered “long-term unemployed” a chance. “I've been asking CEOs to give more long-term unemployed workers a fair shot at new jobs, a new chance to support their families,” said Obama. A few days later, the White House announced that about 300 businesses, including 20 members of the Fortune 50 and big names like Walmart, Apple, General Motors and Ford, had signed on to revise their hiring practices to avoid discriminating against applicants who had been out of work for a significant amount of time.

In November 2013, the national unemployment rate fell to 7 percent, the lowest level in five years. After hitting a post-recessionary high of 10 percent in October 2009, the unemployment rate has fallen slowly and steadily, but remains 2 percentage points higher than it was when the recession began in December 2007.1 

Jennifer Burnett, CSG Program Manager, Fiscal and Economic Development Policy, outlines the top five issues for 2014 related to fiscal and economic development policy, including pervasive federal instability, a sluggish recovery, soaring health care costs, a stagnant labor market and new demands on state resources for economic development.

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