The study found that the states that lost the fewest jobs between 2006 and 2010 – Alaska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Kansas and Minnesota – also had some of the highest levels of volunteerism. Conversely, the states that lost the most jobs – Nevada, California, Alabama, Florida, Rhode Island – had much less volunteerism. For the country as a whole, a 4 percent increase in the rate of working with neighbors was connected to a 1 percent decrease in job loss. A 4 percent increase in public meeting attendance had nearly the same outcome. To a lesser degree, volunteering and voter registration were also related to lower unemployment.
For David Smith, the executive director of the NCoC, that's no coincidence. "The civic safety nets are God, friends, and Facebook," he says. Community networking, he explains, helps people develop skills they can use on the job and also spreads information – not scientific, perhaps, but common sense.
"A big part of this concept is that people get jobs through friends or colleagues," Mr. Smith adds. "So in a large way, what having a high level of connection and community engagement does, is it matches the needs of the labor force with the workforce. It finds the right people who have these skills and helps place them with people looking for qualified employees."