States Where It Is Hardest to Find Full-Time Work

10. New Jersey
> Underemployment rate: 15.7% (tied-8th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 9.1% (tied-6th highest)
> Gross domestic product: 1.3% (15th lowest)
> Income per capita: $53,628 (3rd highest)

New Jersey has suffered from the recession, as well as the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Home prices are down by 21% between 2007 and the end of 2012, a decline topped by only nine states. Average weekly wages in the state are among the highest in the country, at $1,172. However, wage growth was slow in 2012. The state has also had a slow job recovery, and the 12-month average unemployment rate midway through this year remained above 9%.

Also Read: Nine Cities Running Out of Water

9. Arizona
> Underemployment rate: 15.7% (tied-8th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 8.1% (tied-15th highest)
> Gross domestic product: 2.6% (13th highest)
> Income per capita: $35,979 (10th lowest)

Like neighboring Nevada, Arizona’s housing market was hit hard by the recession. Home prices were down 33.3% between the end of 2007 and the end of last year. However, there are some signs of a healthy recovery — Arizona’s home prices rose the most in the U.S. last year. But the housing market still has a long way to go. More than a third of homes with mortgages have negative equity, higher than all but three other states. The state’s job market has been slow to recover. Unemployment is down from a 12-month average of 8.2% of the labor force to 8.1% through the first half of 2013. Construction jobs are up by nearly 10% between June 2012 and June 2013, but are still down by close to 50% compared to June 2006.

8. Washington
> Underemployment rate: 15.7% (tied-8th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 7.5% (tied-22nd highest)
> Gross domestic product: 3.6% (4th highest)
> Income per capita: $45,413 (12th highest)

Washington has improved its unemployment measurably in the last two quarters, from a 12-month average of 8.3% at the end of 2012, to an average of 7.5% at the end of the second quarter of 2013 — below the U.S. 12-month rate of 7.8%. The state’s underemployment rate has also fallen more than all but three other states, but the rate remains one of the highest in the country. One barrier to higher full-time employment may be the state’s minimum wage, although policy makers disagree on the effect such minimums have on job growth. Washington has the nation’s highest minimum wage, at $9.19 per hour.

7. Mississippi
> Underemployment rate: 15.8%
> Unemployment rate: 9.3% (4th highest)
> Gross domestic product: 2.4% (17th highest)
> Income per capita: $33,073 (the lowest)

In the wake of the recession the economic prospects in this state are still grim, especially when business earnings decline and jobs are cut as a result. Last month, for example, Entergy Corporation, which employs 1,900 Mississippi workers, said it will cut 800 jobs to make up for plummeting net income. In 2012, jobs grew by just 1.1% in the state, below the U.S. growth rate of 1.9%. Wages also grew less than average. As of the end of 2012, workers in the state earn just $720 per week, less than those in any other state.

6. Rhode Island
> Underemployment rate: 15.9%
> Unemployment rate: 9.5% (tied-3rd highest)
> Gross domestic product: 1.4% (17th lowest)
> Income per capita: $44,990 (14th highest)

The Rhode Island economy was among the weakest in the nation during 2012, when it had far-slower growth in both employment and wages than the U.S. overall, and home prices barely inched upwards. According to the Associated Press, Rhode Island recently received a $1.9 million federal grant to help boost its economy and infrastructure. The first half of this year has been more promising, however. Rhode Island’s annual average unemployment rate was 10.5% in 2012, higher than any other state except Nevada. But by the second quarter of 2013, the state’s 12-month average unemployment rate had fallen substantially to 9.5%. Similarly, the state’s underemployment rate also declined in that time, from 17.6% to 15.9%, a larger percentage point decline than any other state.

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