Special Report

Easiest (and Hardest) States to Find Full-Time Work

St. Louis, Missouri 3
Source: Thinkstock

40. Missouri
> Underemployment rate: 8.2%
> June unemployment rate: 4.5% (23rd lowest)
> Median wage: $33,380 (17th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 1.1% (24th smallest growth)

Decreasing half a percentage point from last year, Missouri’s unemployment rate of 4.5% is slightly lower than the 4.9% national rate. The state’s underemployment rate, which includes unemployment as well as discouraged workers and unwilling part-time workers, is 8.2%. While several states have less labor underutilization than Missouri, the state’s 2016 underemployment figure marks a 2.5 percentage point improvement over the year before. This was one of the most precipitous drops of any state.

Downtown Madison, Wisconsin
Source: Thinkstock

39. Wisconsin
> Underemployment rate: 8.2%
> June unemployment rate: 4.2% (20th lowest)
> Median wage: $35,110 (23rd highest)
> Labor force growth: 1.5% (21st largest growth)

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate of 4.2% and underemployment rate of 8.2% are each below the national figures of 4.9% and 9.9%, respectively. Economies where a disproportionately high share of people in the labor force are able to work as much as they want tend to have fewer people give up on finding work. This is certainly the case for Wisconsin, which has a labor force participation rate of 68.5%, the seventh highest in the country.

Boise at night, Idaho
Source: Thinkstock

38. Idaho
> Underemployment rate: 8.3%
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (10th lowest)
> Median wage: $31,860 (9th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 1.7% (18th largest growth)

Just over 64% of Idaho’s population participates in the labor force, a slightly larger share than is typical across the country. Even with greater participation, the state’s economy is equipped to provide a higher-than-average percentage of willing workers with jobs. Only 8.3% of people in the state who want jobs are either out of work or forced to accept part-time employment. The corresponding national share is 9.9%.

Hot Springs, Arkansas 3
Source: Thinkstock

37. Arkansas
> Underemployment rate: 8.4%
> June unemployment rate: 3.8% (13th lowest)
> Median wage: $29,420 (2nd lowest)
> Labor force growth: 2.3% (11th largest growth)

In 2015, Arkansas’ 5.3% unemployment rate was exactly in line with that of the country as a whole. However, in the past year, unemployment in the state has gone down by 1.5 percentage points, the second most precipitous drop of any state. Today, only 3.8% of the state’s workforce is without a job and actively seeking one, far smaller than the national 4.9% unemployment rate. The states underemployment rate of 8.4% is also considerably less than the corresponding 9.9% national rate, meaning people in the state are less likely to be discouraged from remaining in the labor force and less likely to be forced to take part-time work in lieu of full-time employment.

Baltimore Inner Harbor, Maryland
Source: Thinkstock

36. Maryland
> Underemployment rate: 8.4%
> June unemployment rate: 4.3% (21st lowest)
> Median wage: $41,860 (5th highest)
> Labor force growth: 0.7% (16th smallest growth)

Just 2.8% of all Maryland workers have part-time jobs instead of full-time positions for economic reasons, the fifth smallest share of any state. Maryland’s industry composition may help explain the small share of involuntary part-time workers. The professional services industry is far less likely to have a part-time position for someone who wants to work full-time, and employs 14.9% of the Maryland workforce — the highest share of any state. Maryland also has the smallest share of workers employed in retail in the country, one of the worst sectors for involuntary part-time work. Maryland’s 8.4% overall underemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country.