Red States and Blue States: Which Have the Fastest Job Growth?

Since President Trump’s inauguration, red states (those he won in the 2016 election) have added 3.4 million jobs, whereas blue states (those won by Hillary Clinton) have added only 2.6 million. That’s according to data through October 2019 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

The rates of job growth across the two groups of states were roughly similar, however (4.20% in red states versus 4.00% in blue states), since red states had a larger number of employees to start with.

Blue states enjoyed faster job growth in 2017, but red states overtook them in 2018, largely due to employment booms in oil and gas production, and manufacturing—industries that are mostly concentrated in red states. In 2019 so far, the two groups are neck and neck. 

Overall, job growth has been strongest in the west and southeast—two regions where both parties have strong representation. These are also regions where a wide range of industries have been thriving—from healthcare and business services to construction and leisure and hospitality. 

The five red states with the fastest job growth have been Utah (9.6%), Arizona (7.9%), Idaho (7.7%), Florida (6.9%) and Texas (6.6%)—states known for their profitable business environment and low cost of living. 

The five blue states with the fastest job growth—Nevada (9.1%), Washington (6.8%), Colorado (6.5%), California (5.6%) and Oregon (5.5%)—include states known for their high cost of living and complex regulatory environments.  

FiveThirtyEight’s list of perennial swing states includes some of the fastest-growing (like Nevada, Florida and Colorado) and some of the slowest (Wisconsin, Ohio and Iowa).     

The overall takeaway is that when it comes to job growth, red, blue, and swing states have performed rather similarly under a Trump presidency. Huge differences in their policies and demographic characteristics do not seem to have translated into significant differences in job creation. 

Over the coming months, we will explore how red and blue states compare on other measures of labor market performance, such as growth in wages, labor force participation, and opportunities for younger workers and minorities. 

Written by

Julia Pollak is Chief Economist at ZipRecruiter. She leads ZipRecruiter's economic research team, which provides insights and analysis on current labor market trends and the future of work.

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