5 states shrinking unemployment

Some states have been better than others at chipping away at their high unemployment rates. Here's how five states helped put their residents back to work.

1 of 6
Most improved players
Most improved players

Unfortunately for millions of unemployed Americans, the forecast for the job market doesn't look much brighter for 2011. For 20 straight months, unemployment has stood above 9% and Fed chairman Ben Bernanke said last week it could take "four or five more years for the job market to normalize."

While the latest jobs report released last week showed that the unemployment rate fell slightly to 9.4% in December from 9.8% the previous month, the news conjured little cheer as the economy added fewer jobs than most economists expected. The drop occurred not because more workers found jobs but rather because fewer people continue to actively look for work.

But it's worth looking at the bright side. Some states that saw unemployment peak well above the national average have seen joblessness drop at a faster pace than the rest of the country in the past year.

Fortune takes a look at five of the most improved jobless rates during the past year and what makes them so extraordinary.

NEXT: Tennessee
Last updated January 12 2011: 12:37 PM ET
A government report shows employers added fewer-than-expected jobs last month. More
This time, risk must be paired with consequences More
There are real signs that the economic recovery will gain strength next year, but that doesn't change the fact that most Americans still won't feel it. More
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.80%3.88%
15 yr fixed3.20%3.23%
5/1 ARM3.84%3.88%
30 yr refi3.82%3.93%
15 yr refi3.20%3.23%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
Find personalized rates:

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.