Special Report

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

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Source: Thinkstock

35. Oklahoma
> Underemployment rate: 8.5%
> June unemployment rate: 4.8% (22nd highest)
> Median wage: $32,430 (14th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 0.4% (11th smallest growth)

Only 2.9% of the active and potential workers in Oklahoma is forced to work part-time, one of the smallest such shares of any state in the country. The total 8.5% share of underemployed in the state is far lower than the corresponding 9.9% nationwide share. Unlike most states with low underemployment, however, the unemployment rate is climbing in Oklahoma. After increasing 0.4 percentage points over the past year, Oklahoma’s 4.8% unemployment rate is slightly below the national rate.

Dallas, Texas lights
Source: Thinkstock

34. Texas
> Underemployment rate: 8.5%
> June unemployment rate: 4.5% (23rd lowest)
> Median wage: $34,550 (24th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 2.0% (15th largest growth)

Over the past decade, no state has added more workers than Texas. Between 2005 and 2015, state employment increased by 18.7%, or nearly 2 million jobs. A substantial part of this growth occurred over the past five years, while most state economies were recovering from the recession. While some states that have added a significant number of post-recession jobs maintain higher-than-average underemployment, just 8.5% of Texas’ willing and able workers are either unemployed or underemployed, lower than the national rate of 9.9%.

Honolulu, Hawaii 2
Source: Thinkstock

33. Hawaii
> Underemployment rate: 8.7%
> June unemployment rate: 3.3% (6th lowest)
> Median wage: $38,750 (12th highest)
> Labor force growth: 1.3% (25th largest growth)

Hawaii has one of the most favorable job markets in the country, with among the lowest underemployment and unemployment rates, at 8.7% and 3.3%, respectively. Unlike other states with such healthy labor markets, however, Hawaii is home to a relatively high share of workers employed part-time for economic reasons, at 4.1%.

Due in part to the nation-leading cost of living in Hawaii, which is driven by steep housing costs, wages in Hawaii are also high. The average worker earns $38,750 annually, the 12th highest of all states.

Indianapolis Downtown, Indiana, USA
Source: Thinkstock

32. Indiana
> Underemployment rate: 8.7%
> June unemployment rate: 4.8% (22nd highest)
> Median wage: $32,910 (15th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 3.4% (3rd largest growth)

Between June 2015 and June 2016, Indiana’s labor force grew by 3.4%, the third largest increase in the country. Often, a growing labor force means increased competition for jobs. Over the same time period, unemployment in the state climbed a tenth of a percentage point to 4.8%. Still, at 8.7%, underemployment is less common in Indiana than it is across the country as a whole. Nationwide, 9.9% of people who want or are able to work are either out of work or forced to accept part-time positions.

Wilmington, Delaware Memorial Bridge
Source: Thinkstock

31. Delaware
> Underemployment rate: 8.8%
> June unemployment rate: 4.2% (tied–20th lowest)
> Median wage: $37,750 (16th highest)
> Labor force growth: 3.4% (2nd largest growth)

Compared to other industries, relatively few jobs in the financial sector are part-time, and in Delaware, 9.8% of the workforce is employed in finance, the largest share of any state in the country. Partially as a result of this, only 3.4% of workers are forced to accept part-time instead of full-time employment, less than the corresponding 3.8% national share. Perhaps not surprisingly, the state’s economy is relatively strong. In the last year, unemployment dropped 0.7 percentage points to 4.2%, even as competition for jobs increased as the labor force grew by a near nation-leading pace of 3.4%.