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Liberty Foundation teams up to tackle national workforce woes

Workforce participation has plummeted to lows not seen since the 1970s.

This article originally appeared on watchdog.org.

Free-market think tanks in 32 states are working with The Liberty Foundation of America to address falling workforce participation, which has plummeted to lows not seen since the 1970s.

Liberty Foundation announced the project with the release of reports for all 50 states and the District of Columbia listing workforce participation rankings, charting trends from 1999 to 2013 and detailing rate changes across a range of demographics.

??The goal is to educate the public on how the economy over the last several years is really doing, especially as we approach an opportunity to determine the policy direction of the country,? Liberty Foundation Chief Operating Officer Matt Mayer told Watchdog.org via email. ??We hope our partners outreach into non-traditional communities given how poor their labor force participation rate is.?

Liberty Foundation??s announcement of the project highlighted several especially troubling workforce participation statistics, including five-year declines of 11 percent for Hispanics and 6 percent for blacks in Arkansas and a four-year drop of almost 4 percent for all Alaskans.

Mayer??s own Opportunity Ohio is among the 32 nonprofits working to inform their states about a national trend that only worsened after the 2007 recession. Liberty Foundation, which emphasizes competitive federalism, aims to help states determine the best policies for boosting workforce participation while coordinating opposition to harmful policies from DC.

In the initial study, North Dakota and Washington, D.C., were outliers because their labor force participation rates increased between 1999 and 2013.

??North Dakota is the strongest state due to the Bakkan formation energy opportunity and how they have leveraged it,? Mayer explained. ??The District of Columbia also did well, but that is due to the growth of government, which isn??t a good thing.?

North Dakota has seen a boom in job creation from the use of horizontal hydraulic fracturing to extract oil and natural gas from the Bakkan shale formation.

Almost every other state had lower workforce participation in 2013 than in 2009, following years of increased deficit spending on public infrastructure and other federal ??stimulus? programs. Only North Dakota, Washington, D.C., Nebraska and Maine saw workforce participation rates increase from 2009-13.

Workforce participation rates dropped by 3 percent or more in 13 states during the same period, and dropped by 3 percent or more in 37 states from 1999-13. By 2013, a total of 36 states had lower workforce participation rates than the January 1999 national rate of 67.2 percent.

Rankings for all 50 states and DC compiled from Liberty Foundation??s research are listed below with 2013 workforce participation rates and rate changes from both 1999 and 2009.

State 2013
Rank
Labor Force
Participation
Rate, 2013
Change
in LFPR,
1999-2013
Change
in LFPR,
2009-2013
North Dakota 1 72.9% 2.4% 0.5%
Nebraska 2 72.4% -0.7% 0.3%
Minnesota 3 70.1% -5.0% -1.8%
Iowa 4 69.8% -2.1% -2.6%
South Dakota 5 69.6% -3.7% -2.8%
District of Columbia 6 69.5% 1.9% 0.4%
New Hampshire 7 69.3% -3.0% -1.1%
Utah 8 68.9% -3.4% -1.1%
Wisconsin 9 68.6% -3.7% -1.6%
Vermont 10 68.2% -3.9% -2.7%
Wyoming 11 68.2% -3.0% -3.5%
Colorado 12 68.1% -5.4% -2.9%
Kansas 13 68.0% -4.1% -3.8%
Alaska 14 67.7% -5.7% -2.6%
Maryland 15 67.4% -2.4% -1.5%
Virgina 16 66.3% -1.2% -2.4%
Maine 17 65.4% -2.5% 0.2%
Illinois 18 65.4% -4.3% -1.4%
Rhode Island 19 65.3% -1.9% -2.1%
Texas 20 65.3% -3.5% -0.5%
Connecticut 21 64.8% -2.7% -4.0%
Massachusetts 22 64.7% -4.0% -1.8%
New Jersey 23 64.5% -2.6% -2.7%
Missouri 24 64.2% -4.5% -2.3%
Idaho 25 64.0% -5.7% -1.4%
Nevada 26 64.0% -5.1% -3.6%
Montana 27 64.0% -5.2% -1.0%
Washington 28 63.6% -6.6% -4.8%
Pennsylvania 29 63.4% -1.0% -0.9%
Indiana 30 63.0% -5.3% -2.1%
Ohio 31 62.9% -4.0% -3.1%
California 32 62.9% -3.4% -2.2%
Georgia 33 62.7% -6.9% -3.0%
Oklahoma 34 62.1% -3.1% -1.9%
New York 35 61.7% -1.2% -1.5%
North Carolina 36 61.6% -5.6% -2.6%
Kentucky 37 60.8% -3.5% -1.2%
Oregon 38 60.6% -7.6% -4.8%
Delaware 39 60.5% -6.6% -3.3%
Tennessee 40 60.5% -5.8% -1.7%
Michigan 41 60.5% -8.0% -2.6%
Hawaii 42 60.3% -6.7% -3.4%
Florida 43 60.2% -2.3% -2.1%
Louisiana 44 59.5% -3.1% -1.6%
Arizona 45 59.3% -6.9% -4.4%
South Carolina 46 59.0% -6.6% -2.0%
Alabama 47 58.0% -5.3% -1.3%
New Mexico 48 57.5% -4.5% -4.1%
Arkansas 49 57.4% -5.4% -4.9%
Mississippi 50 55.7% -5.4% -1.8%
West Virginia 51 53.9% -2.5% -2.4%
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