Special Report

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

Source: Thinkstock

40. Minnesota
> Underemployment rate: 7.7%
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (tied –16th lowest)
> Average wage: $54,270 (12th highest)
> Labor force growth: 0.9% (22nd largest increase)

In Minnesota, 7.7% of the labor force are either working part-time instead of full-time, are jobless and looking for work, or have recently given up the search for employment altogether — a relatively low share compared to the 9.5% national figure. Minnesota’s strong job market may be partially due to the state’s highly educated workforce. An estimated 34.7% of adults in the state have at least a bachelor’s degree, one of the largest shares of any state. The healthy job market may also help many residents stay out of poverty, as the state’s poverty rate of 10.2% is the fourth smallest of any state.

Source: Thinkstock

39. Wisconsin
> Underemployment rate: 7.7%
> June unemployment rate: 3.1% (tied –8th lowest)
> Average wage: $46,009 (21st lowest)
> Labor force growth: 0.8% (24th largest increase)

Wisconsin is one of three Midwestern states in which 7.7% of the labor force are underemployed. Like the other two states, Indiana and Minnesota, Wisconsin has a relatively strong manufacturing sector. Major manufacturers in the state include Briggs & Stratton, Harley Davidson, and Johnson Controls. Some 9.6% of workers in the state are employed in durable goods manufacturing, and another 6.3% in nondurable goods manufacturing, each roughly double the comparable shares nationwide. However, in keeping with the broader national trend, durable goods manufacturing was a drag on the state’s economy last year.

Source: Thinkstock

38. Indiana
> Underemployment rate: 7.7%
> June unemployment rate: 3.0% (tied –6th lowest)
> Average wage: $44,594 (14th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 1.7% (12th largest increase)

Some 7.7% of Indiana’s workforce are underemployed. Still the state’s job market is healthier than that of most states and the nation’s as a whole. The number of jobs in Indiana climbed 2.1% last year, outpacing the 1.7% nationwide growth.

In a break from the broader national trend, Indiana’s durable goods manufacturing sector was a boon to the state economy in 2016. Some 12.2% of the state’s labor force works in the sector, the largest such share of any state in the country. Major manufacturers in the state include Rolls Royce, Raytheon, and Toyota.

Source: Thinkstock

37. Idaho
> Underemployment rate: 7.7%
> June unemployment rate: 3.1% (tied –8th lowest)
> Average wage: $39,632 (2nd lowest)
> Labor force growth: 2.2% (8th largest increase)

Idaho has one of the lower underemployment rates in the country, and this is likely due in part to its considerable job growth in recent years. Over the last five years, employment in the state has grown by an average of 2.5% annually, eighth most in the country. While Idaho workers are more likely to find full-time work, their pay can leave something to be desired. The state’s average annual wage of $39,632 is the second lowest in the country.

Source: Thinkstock

36. Massachusetts
> Underemployment rate: 7.8%
> June unemployment rate: 4.3% (tied — 20th highest)
> Average wage: $67,429 (2nd highest)
> Labor force growth: 0.2% (13th smallest increase)

In Massachusetts, 7.8% of the labor force is underemployed, well below the 9.5% national figure. One factor contributing to the healthy employment situation in Massachusetts is the state’s highly educated workforce. A college degree can increase the chance of finding full-time employment. An estimated 41.5% of adults in Massachusetts have at least a bachelor’s degree, the largest share nationwide.

While Massachusetts is one the easier states in which to find full-time employment, worker confidence is relatively low as of late. Some 1.3% of the Massachusetts labor force has given up looking for work in recent weeks, the largest share of any state with an unemployment rate below the U.S. rate and nearly the largest such share in the country.