Those who’ve been fortunate enough to see me occasionally pecking at a keyboard throughout the day already know this, but Georgia is the hardest-working state in the South.
The folks at MarketWatch put together a dandy map that shows which states have the highest and lowest labor participation rates.
Georgia leads our corner of the nation with 57.6 percent, despite having the third highest unemployment rate (7.2 percent) in the country.
How are such paradoxical data points possible?
Many believe the traditional unemployment rate typically cited in news articles is a misleading metric because it only counts the people who are looking for work. Those who have given up on finding employment, and there are millions, are not counted.
The labor participation rate, on the other hand, counts people who are working and actively seeking work.
I am not an economist but the numbers seem to suggest Georgia has a lot of people looking for work but not finding it.
In West Virginia, where the labor participation rate is only 49.8 percent, workers seem to have given up hope. It marks the first time since 1976, when the federal government began tracking labor participation, that the majority of adults in a state are not active in the workforce.
Some of our neighbors are not far behind West Virginia.
In Mississippi, where unemployment is 7.3 percent, the labor participation rate is just 50.8 percent.
Other states faring poorly are Alabama (52.2 percent), South Carolina (54.5 percent) and Tennessee (54.6 percent). Georgia’s closet competition comes from Florida (57 percent) and North Carolina (56.6 percent).
But we shouldn’t pat ourselves on the back too hard. The national average for labor participation is more than 62 percent.
The leading states are in oil-producing areas. North Dakota, for example, has a 69.5 percent rate.
The data is from November, before the price of oil hit the skids. I suspect fewer people are working in U.S. oil fields today.
Further evidence Georgia is the hardest-working state in the South comes from the American Time Use Survey. Last month, Business Insider looked at a decade of reports and concluded Georgians work the fifth-longest days in the nation.
Georgians work an average of 7 hours and 42 minutes per day. North Dakota led the way with an 8 hour, 2 minute work day.
Speaking of working a long day, it’s time for me to leave early.
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