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Explaining Unemployment: An Analysis on State Unemployment Rates Rachel Schlesselman Creighton University

Introduction and Research Question Mississippi has 48,434 square miles of land. The state flower is the magnolia. Hawaii has only 6, 423 square miles of land and the yellow hibiscus as the state flower. These states are very different in many aspects; their populations, products, and geography are all very different. States are very unique and while national averages can give a general understanding of these separate entities, how are we to be sure it is an accurate account. The national average for unemployment in August of 2006 was at 4.7 percent. This does not adequately represent the unemployment rates for Mississippi or Hawaii. Mississippi had the highest unemployment rate of all states at 7.1 percent. Hawaii on the other hand, had the lowest at 2.8 percent. If the national average does not accurately represent the unemployment rates of these states, is it not then important for us to look at those state rates and determine our own cause for the differences? It is because of this I ask the question, how do we explain the variation of unemployment rates among the individual states? It is important to clarify exactly what the question is asking and the unit of analysis that is going to be tested. According to the Bureau of Labor, unemployment is defined as “persons who did not work or have a job during the reference period, were actively looking for work during the period and were available for work during the reference period”. Unemployment rates are therefore, the persons that were not working and were actively looking for work divided by the total available working population. The total available working population excludes those who are retired, disabled, and anyone else not

interested in holding a job. For this study the unit of analysis is...

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