Special Report

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

7. Michigan
> Underemployment rate: 15.2%
> Unemployment rate: 7.9% (2nd highest)
> GDP growth 2012-2013: 3.8% (21st highest)
> Labor force growth 2007-2014: -6.0% (the lowest)

Michigan’s labor market has been struggling for some time. Since at least 2007, the state has had among the highest underemployment and unemployment rates in the nation. And more than 15% of the state’s workforce was unable find adequate employment as of the middle of this year. Perhaps due in part to improvements in the state’s manufacturing sectors, Michigan’s GDP has grown by an average annual rate of 4.2% between 2010 and last year, which is exceptionally strong given the impact of the recession on the state. Wage growth, however, has continued a trend of extreme volatility and state housing prices remain consistently low. Michigan’s labor force is nearly 6% smaller than it was in 2007, the largest contraction in the nation, making the state’s persistently high underemployment and employment especially troubling.

ALSO READ: 10 States Where Manufacturing Still Matters

6. Rhode Island
> Underemployment rate: 15.5%
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (tied, 10th highest)
> GDP growth 2012-2013: 3.1% (20th lowest)
> Labor force growth 2007-2014: -3.0% (4th lowest)

Rhode Island’s 2013 underemployment rate of 15.5% was nearly double its 2007 level. High underemployment is an indication that finding any work — part-time or otherwise — remains difficult, even as the country has slowly begun to recover from the recession. Between 2007 and 2014, the state’s labor force contracted by 3%, indicating that workers may have stopped looking for employment. This drop in the labor force, paired with high underemployment, is evidence of a troubled economy. State GDP grew at an annualized rate of 1.6% between 2007 and 2014, the fourth lowest rate in the country. Rhode Island homeowners are also worse off than those in many other states, as housing prices fell more than 20% during the crisis, one of the large declines in the country. By 2013, average home prices had yet to recover to pre-recession levels.

5. Illinois
> Underemployment rate: 15.6%
> Unemployment rate: 7.1% (tied, 10th highest)
> GDP growth 2012-2013: 2.4% (7th lowest)
> Labor force growth 2007-2014: -2.3% (6th lowest)

More than 15.5% of working-age adults in Illinois were underemployed as of the first quarter of 2014, the fifth-highest rate in the country. State GDP grew at an annualized rate of 2.1% between 2007 and 2014, one of the lower rates in the country. Slow output may be due in part to the state’s troubled housing market. Between 2007 and 2011, housing prices, according to the FHFA, fell by over 20% and, as of 2013, had not yet recovered to 2007 levels. From 2007 to 2014, the labor force contracted more than 2%, one of the largest declines in the country.

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