But even for those jobs that are out there, the wide search radii provided by Internet job site searches might not be helping much. There are a number of factors that are preventing good labor mobility, which is the ability for job searchers to move from an area where they can't find to work to another area where work is available. Even if someone living in Ohio wants to move 66 miles from Mansfield, where the unemployment rate is 10.7%, to Columbus, where it's just 8.0%, some obstacles exist that could be preventing the move.
Own a Home
Everybody knows that the housing bubble's pop was one of the factors that led to unemployment rising to a catastrophic level, but it's also helping to keep it there by limiting labor mobility. If you own a home, even if you are current on your bills, you might not be able to move. In some cases, a mortgage may have gone underwater due to home prices falling. In other cases, even if the home has sufficient equity to allow a move, the buying demand is so weak and supply is so large that it could take months or years to sell a house for a reasonable price. If you can't sell your home, it's generally pretty hard to move.
Spouse Still Has a Job
Today two-income households are more common than ever. If a husband gets laid off, often a wife's income must be relied on, or vice-versa. And if one family member still has a job, then unless you can both simultaneously find new jobs in another location, moving might not help much. This forces many people to stay put even, if there's a job elsewhere available.
Don't Want to Leave Family
Even though we live in a world where it's physically easy for people to move away from their friends or family, many don't want to. Beyond the purely emotional need to be close to loved ones, there are often practical restraints. For example, if you are a single parent who needs to be close to your parents to provide free daycare for your child, then you can't simply skip town. Or if you have elderly parents who need special care, then you might not be able to move them as well. In the case of divorced parents, shared custody of children can also complicate moving for work.
The North Dakota Problem
In December, the unemployment rate in North Dakota was just 3.8%. Meanwhile, in Vero Beach, Florida, the unemployment rate was above 14%. So why wouldn't these people flee to North Dakota? Well, because it's North Dakota.
Many of the states suffering from highest unemployment rates are in the South or West, which also happen to be very desirable areas for weather. That's why they were such big centers for the housing boom and now are suffering worse than most others. Meanwhile, some of the lowest unemployment rates happen to be in very undesirable areas to live, like the upper-Midwest. They often weren't as affected by the housing boom. Even if moving across country wasn't physically difficult and expensive, some people just don't want to deal with the climate-shock. The gleaming exception to this rule is Hawaii, which enjoys a 6.4% unemployment rate.