Special Report

States Where It's Hardest to Find Full-Time Work

10. New Jersey
> Underemployment rate: 14.2%
> Unemployment rate: 6.4% (19th highest)
> GDP growth 2012-2013: 2.7% (14th lowest)
> Labor force growth 2007-2014: 1.0% (20th lowest)

While New Jersey’s relatively slow recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis has picked up recently, home prices have yet to return to pre-crisis levels. In 2013, average home prices were still down nearly 30% from 2007, among the larger declines in the nation. The state’s job market has not fared much better in recent years. Average weekly wages were nearly 1% lower this year than they were in 2013, and the labor force has remained stagnant since 2008. There may be hope for New Jersey, however, as the unemployment rate has declined over the past several years, falling to 6.4% in June from a peak of 9.7% in 2012. State officials have also made attempts to improve the situation. Governor Christie has introduced $1.95 billion in tax incentives over the past several years.

9. Florida
> Underemployment rate: 14.3%
> Unemployment rate: 6.2% (22nd highest)
> GDP growth 2012-2013: 4.1% (18th highest)
> Labor force growth 2007-2014: 4.2% (10th highest)

The housing crisis hit Florida especially hard, with average home prices bottoming out in 2011. As of 2013, home prices in Florida had lost over 38% of their value since 2007. The troubled housing market had a strong impact on the state’s economy. Unemployment, which was 4.1% in 2007, rose to 11.3% in 2010, one of the higher rates in the country. Similarly, underemployment peaked in 2010 at 19.3%, before falling to 14.3% at the beginning of this year. Not only have unemployment and underemployment rates increased, but the labor force also contracted during the recession as workers became discouraged and stopped looking for work. For those who have been able to find employment, wages have been slow to recover to pre-recession levels. Between 2007 and 2013, weekly wages grew at an average annual rate of 0.8%, the fifth lowest rate in the country.

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8. Kentucky
> Underemployment rate: 14.7%
> Unemployment rate: 7.4% (6th highest)
> GDP growth 2012-2013: 3.0% (17th lowest)
> Labor force growth 2007-2014: 0.1% (15th lowest)

Kentucky’s economic performance has been inconsistent in recent years. Wage growth remained positive throughout the recession, growing at an average annual rate of 1.3%, although this was one of the lower rates nationwide. Between 2006 and 2007, GDP growth was 2.0%, also one of the lowest rates in the country. However, GDP grew by more than 6.5% between 2009 and 2010, the sixth-highest rate in the country, before slowing again in later years. In June 2014, underemployment was still five percentage points above its pre-recession levels, indicating that state residents continue to struggle to find full-time, satisfactory work.

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