Interactive Map: The Midwestern Recession

State and Regional Changes in Wages and Employment Rates since 2000

See also: “The Midwestern Great Recession of 2001 and the Destruction of Good Jobs” by Brendan Duke and Andrew Schwartz

A new analysis from the Center for American Progress finds dramatic differences in changes to employment rates and wages across states for the prime-age population since 2000. The analysis reveals an especially interesting set of patterns for states in the Midwest.

Notably, the 2000–2016 decline in employment for Midwestern states was roughly in line with that of the rest of the country, but they suffered particularly sharp declines from 2000 to 2007. One way to think about the timing of the Midwest’s employment decline is that it is not especially deep compared with other regions, but it started earlier and has persisted longer than in the rest of the country. And in both periods, the Midwest performed particularly poorly on real wage growth.

Below is an interactive map that illustrates state-by-state changes in employment rates and wage growth for two periods: 2000 to 2007 and 2000 to 2016. The interactive map also includes wage growth for commuting zones—geographic units that represent a region’s local economy in a more precise way than state-based measures.

For a full-size version of the interactive, click here.

Every state—with the exception of the District of Columbia—had a lower prime-age employment rate in 2016 than in 2000. Southern states such as Alabama, at -8.4 percent, and South Carolina, at -8.1 percent, and Western states such as New Mexico, at -7.0 percent, and Nevada, at -6.5 percent, had the largest decreases. However, in the period from 2000 to 2007, several Midwestern states such as Michigan, at -5.7 percent, and Missouri, at -3.4 percent, were among the places with the largest declines in employment rates.

Midwestern states have also generally fared poorly in real wage growth since 2000. Michigan, Ohio, and Minnesota each ranked in the bottom ten states for real wage growth from 2000 to 2007. And, for the entire 2000–2016 period, five out of the ten worst-performing states on real wage growth were in the Midwest: Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Ohio, and Missouri.

A similar pattern for wages is visible when looking at commuting zones. Wages fell in many parts of the Midwest from 2000 to 2007 and continued to fall through 2015. Among the worst regions in the Midwest from 2000 to 2007 were Scioto, Ohio, at -8.8 percent, and Jackson, Michigan, at -8.7 percent, and for the 2000 to 2015 period, Center, Indiana, at -17.8 percent, and Gary, Indiana, at -16.7 percent, were among the worst in the nation.

Note: Employment rates at the commuting zone level were not included in the measure due to a change in American Community Survey methodology in 2008. The most recent American Community Survey data available are for 2015. Wages for states are the median weekly earnings of full-time workers, and wages for commuting zones are the median imputed weekly earnings for full-time, full-year workers. Both are adjusted for inflation using the Personal Consumption Expenditure Chain-type Price Index. State data are divided into approximate quintiles. The number of states in each quintile varies slightly in some cases in order to accommodate similar values. Commuting zones are broken into 20 groups of equal interval.

Brendan V. Duke is the Associate Director for Economic Policy at the Center for American Progress. Andrew Schwartz is a Policy Analyst on the Economic Policy team at the Center. Mathew Brady was the data visualization consultant and developer for this interactive.