Although the job market hasn’t added all that many jobs of late, that doesn’t mean that people aren’t looking—for all sorts of reasons.
With seemingly everyone on the hunt for a job—whether to better their current circumstances, reenter the job market after a stint caring for family members or stay employed after retirement—WalletHub has done everyone a favor by ooking at the job market across the country, evaluating all 50 states across 24 key indicators of job-market strength, opportunity and economic vitality.
Reviewing data on such factors as employment growth, median annual income and average commute time, it scored each state on which provide the best opportunities for jobhunters and which actually throw roadblocks in their path.
In two main categories—job market and economic environment—WalletHub relied on 24 relevant metrics, with each graded on a 100-point scale; the higher the number, the more favorable for jobhunters.
Using data from sources that included the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indeed.com, Gallup-Healthways, United Health Foundation, and WalletHub research, among many, they accumulated plenty of information about each state so that they could include the most relevant statistics.
Factors considered in the job market category included these:
presence of work-share programs
presence of state nondiscrimination laws and policies, and many more
For economic environment, WalletHub considered median annual income, monthly average starting salary, share of workers living under the poverty line, the average length of the work week, the average commute time, the earned-income tax credit, and the state income tax burden for low-, middle- and high-income earners, as a share of income.
After crunching all those numbers, they ranked each state, and we present you with the top and bottom five, in that order. Target your resumes accordingly:
5 Best States for Finding a Job
5. New Jersey
Stop laughing. New Jersey ranked fifth from the top for finding jobs, with an overall score of 62.88, a job market rank of 19 and an economic environment rank of 5.
It also boasts the fourth highest monthly median starting salary—a good thing to know. But you won’t be as happy to hear that it has the third longest commute time—so be prepared.
4. South Dakota
With an overall score of 63.81, South Dakota should be high on your resume list.
It also has a job market rank of 10 and an economic environment rank of 7. In addition, it’s tied for first place, with New Hampshire and Hawaii, for the lowest unemployment rate nationally, and it has the shortest commuting time in the country.
One other encouraging fact: it ranks fifth nationally for having the most job opportunities. But the bad news is that it has the fourth lowest monthly median starting salary—so be prepared to budget.
3. New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s overall score is 65.37, and of course you already know it’s tied for first place for the lowest unemployment rate. Its economic environment got it a score of 8, while its job market rank placed it at 6.
It’s also in second place for the most job opportunities.
Colorado edged out New Hampshire with an overall score of 65.67, with an economic environment of 19 and a job market rank at the very top—finishing in first place.
It also leads the country for most job opportunities.
That’s “state of,” not D.C., by the way.
Its overall score of 70.24 outdid all the other states, and its job market rank of 11 and economic environment rank of 1 helped put it there.
However, it’s third from the bottom for the number of job opportunities, but those jobs pay well; it’s third from the top for highest monthly median starting salary.
5 Worst States for Finding a Job
The dubious honor of being fifth from the bottom nationally is borne out by Mississippi’s overall ranking of 42.71, along with an economic environment rank of 40 and a job market rank of 43.
It’s fourth from the bottom nationally for number of job opportunities, and second from the bottom in having one of the lowest monthly median starting salaries. So you might not want to put it near the top of your jobhunting list.
Finishing lower than Mississippi is Alabama, with an overall ranking of 41.52, an economic environment rank of 41 and a job market rank of 44.
In addition, it’s tied for 46th place for the highest unemployment rate in the country.
Not much of a horse race here; Kentucky’s so near the bottom because of its overall ranking of 40.12, its job market rank of 40 and its economic environment rank of—wait for it—50.
While the state undoubtedly has other things to recommend it, its job situation isn’t one of them. Look elsewhere.
The Bayou State may be the place to go to let the good times roll, but not to hunt for a job. With an overall ranking of 37.04, an economic environment ranking of 28 and a job market rank of 50, there are better places to look for a place to work.
In fact, Louisiana finished 46th out of 50 for the fewest job opportunities, and 49th for lowest employment growth—as well as 48th for highest unemployment rate and 46th for longest time spent working. Oh, and 47th for lowest job satisfaction rate. Still, what’s not to like?
1. West Virginia
Its overall ranking of 35.23 does not recommend West Virginia as a place to grow professionally; neither does its rank of 47 for job market or 48 for economic environment.
It’s tied with Alabama in 46th place for the highest unemployment rate and it also finished next to lowest in the country for lowest median annual income (adjusted for cost of living, of course). So if you’re looking to get ahead, look elsewhere.