Special Report

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

Billings, Montana
Source: Thinkstock

30. Montana
> Underemployment rate: 8.8%
> June unemployment rate: 4.2% (tied–20th lowest)
> Median wage: $31,970 (10th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 0.2% (8th smallest growth)

Of workers in Montana, including those who have given up their job search, 8.8% are either unemployed or working part-time against their preference, slightly less than the national rate of 9.9%. In the past year, a number of states have seen either unemployment or underemployment improve meaningfully, but Montana’s job market has remained stagnant. The state unemployment rate remained roughly unchanged over the past year. Meanwhile, the state’s share of workers who have either given up looking for work or are working part-time when they want to be working full-time remained level with the previous year.

Portland, Maine 2
Source: Thinkstock

29. Maine
> Underemployment rate: 9.0%
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (tied–10th lowest)
> Median wage: $34,710 (25th highest)
> Labor force growth: 0.2% (10th smallest growth)

In Maine 9.0% of all workers are either unemployed, discouraged from seeking work, or are working at a part-time job instead of a full-time position for economic reasons. This is lower than the national 9.9% underemployment rate. While the state’s labor force remained relatively unchanged over the past year, the share of potential workers lacking full-time jobs has not. Maine’s underemployment fell by 2.1 percentage points over the last year, one of the largest declines in the country. The improvement was largely due to a substantial decrease in unemployment in the state.

Lynchburg, Virginia, USA Skyline
Source: Thinkstock

28. Virginia
> Underemployment rate: 9.3%
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (tied–10th lowest)
> Median wage: $38,180 (14th highest)
> Labor force growth: -0.5% (5th largest decline)

Virginia’s 9.3% share of unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged workers is lower than the corresponding 9.9% national share. Still, a disproportionate number of workers in the state are forced to take part-time work due to a lack of full-time opportunities. In Virginia, 4.2% of workers are forced to take part-time positions, slightly more than the 3.8% national share. Still, the state’s 3.7% unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country and well below the 4.9% national rate.

Boston, Cambridge Skyline, Aerial view, Charles River and Beacon Hill
Source: Thinkstock

27. Massachusetts
> Underemployment rate: 9.4%
> June unemployment rate: 4.2% (20th lowest)
> Median wage: $45,580 (2nd highest)
> Labor force growth: 0.7% (15th smallest growth)

The Massachusetts underemployment rate of 9.4% is roughly in line with the national rate of 9.9%. Even considering the state’s 3.8% share of involuntary part-time workers, Massachusetts workers are paid more than most. The state’s median annual wage of $45,580 is higher than every state but Alaska.

Cincinnati, Ohio
Source: Thinkstock

26. Ohio
> Underemployment rate: 9.5%
> June unemployment rate: 5.0% (19th highest)
> Median wage: $35,030 (24th highest)
> Labor force growth: 2.0% (14th largest growth)

Ohio’s economy is faring only slightly better than the country’s in a few key employment measures. The state’s 9.5% underemployment rate is slightly less than the corresponding 9.9% national figure. Relatively rapid labor force growth likely translates to a more competitive job market. Between 2015 and 2016, Ohio’s labor force grew by 2.0%, faster than the majority of states and above the 1.2% national rate.