Feb. 23, 2010— -- With the nation's unemployment rate standing at just under 10 percent, plenty of Americans are looking for work. Though the United States as a whole is still mired in recession, things are already looking up in parts of the country, according to economist Mark Zandi.
There's a real opportunity to find work in the nation's heartland, he said.
"You could draw a line from Bismarck, North Dakota, to San Antonio, Texas, and go a hundred miles on either side, and that's the strongest part of the our economy," said Zandi, who testified before Congress on Tuesday and runs the research operation at Moody's Economy.com.
That line in the center of the country is an area that wasn't hit that hard by the recession, and it still has lots of agricultural, energy and mining jobs.
Beyond that region, Zandi said, other states can expect good news soon. Ohio, South Carolina and Indiana will all start to see more jobs soon, he said, thanks to an uptick in manufacturing that is already helping those states pull out of the recession.
It's surprising news even to an economist who studies the data every day, but Zandi said it's happened "because people are cutting back so much."
Then, according to Zandi, the next places that will see a renaissance in jobs are technology centers like Boston, San Francisco and Seattle.
At the end of next year, he said we will even start to see new jobs in the retail, leisure and hospitality industries as consumer spending and business travel rebound.
Of course, Zandi can only make forecasts, and the jobs picture could still get worse.
Congress Debates New Jobs Bill to Spur Hiring
Even in the best-case scenario, experts say the more than 8 million jobs erased in the recession won't fully come back until 2013. That's why Congress is now looking at passing a new jobs bill that would give tax cuts to some business owners.
Rebecca and Paul Steinman own a T-shirt business in Brooklyn, N.Y., and they stand to benefit from a potential jobs bill. If Congress gives them a tax break to hire new employees, they say they might expand their staff.
"We're on the fence about the ability to hire another person," Rebecca Steinman said. "This might be the kind of thing that would push us more towards taking the chance."
So how can you best position yourself for a new job? Experts say that finding work is all about flexibility -- a willingness to change industries and adopt new skill sets. That, and planning a move to North Dakota.