States Where It Is Hardest to Find Full-Time Work

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As the nation continues to recover from the recession, not only is the unemployment rate down, but the underemployment rate — an important measure of the health of the job market — has been slowly declining as well.

In 2012, 14.7% of all people in the workforce either had no job, were too discouraged to go looking, or were not working as much as they wanted. Through the 12 months ending mid-2013, this figure had fallen slightly to 14.3%. But in many states, underemployment remains persistently high. These are the states where it is hardest to find full-time work.

Click here to see where it is hardest to find a full-time job

BLS chief regional economist Martin Kohli told 24/7 Wall St. “In these states, the statistics are showing some positive and some negative developments.” In high underemployment states like Mississippi and New Jersey, he noted, the rate of people involuntarily underemployed increased over the last year, even as the national rate declined.

For those high underemployment states where the rate has declined, however, such as California, Nevada, and Michigan, the declines in underemployment rates in some of these states is a sign of job market growth. In these states, Kohli noted, there have been “increases in their labor forces, as well as significant over the year increases in payroll jobs, so the changes in the [underemployment] rates are additional confirmation of improvements in their labor markets.”

For many states with high underemployment, a strong year for job growth in 2012 still has not been enough to help all workers find jobs. High underemployment states like Washington, Arizona, and California had some of the fastest job growth in the country in 2012, but still have not recovered all of the jobs they lost prior to the recession. In Arizona, there were about 2.5 million jobs in July. In late 2007, there were nearly 2.7 million nonfarm jobs. In California, where the number of jobs rose 3.3% in 2012, the third-fastest growth in the country, there were 14.6 million jobs in July, just under half a million less than in late 2007.

Many of the states where people cannot find full-time, consistent work were especially hurt by the housing market collapse in the previous decade. At the end of 2012, according to the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indexes, home prices in the majority of the states with high underemployment were still at least 20% lower than they were at the end of 2007. In Arizona and Nevada — both high underemployment states — home prices declined by one-third and almost half, respectively.

To determine the states with the least full-time work, 24/7 Wall St. used figures published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Alternative Measures of Labor Underutilization, covering four quarters ending with the second quarter of 2013. We focused on two measures: U-3, the conventional measure of the unemployment rate, and U-6, the underemployment rate. The underemployment rate adds “marginally attached” workers, which includes those who have become too discouraged to look for a job, and people working part time because their hours were cut or they cannot find full-time work. We also reviewed figures published by the Bureau of Economic Analysis on personal income and changes by state for 2012.

These are the states where it is hardest to find full-time work.