Special Report

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

Source: Thinkstock

35. Missouri
> Underemployment rate: 7.8%
> June unemployment rate: 3.8% (tied –20th lowest)
> Average wage: $46,125 (22nd lowest)
> Labor force growth: 0.5% (19th smallest increase)

A smaller share of Missouri’s labor force is underemployed than is typical nationwide. Despite greater job availability, Missouri residents are just as likely to face serious financial hardship than the typical American. The state’s 14.8% poverty rate is in line with the 14.7% U.S. poverty rate. Jobs in the state also tend to be relatively low paying. The average annual wage in the state is only $46,125, well below the $53,611 average wage nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

34. Kansas
> Underemployment rate: 8.1%
> June unemployment rate: 3.7% (tied –16th lowest)
> Average wage: $44,140 (13th lowest)
> Labor force growth: -0.3% (4th largest decline)

The job market in Kansas compares favorably to most other states and the country as a whole, with 8.1% of the state’s workers unable to find the work they want, compared to a national underemployment rate of 9.5%. However, the job market appears to have become slightly less favorable, as employment in Kansas contracted last year — one of only five states where this was the case. Still, the state’s underemployment rate has improved considerably from five years ago, when it was at 11.5%.

Source: Thinkstock

33. Maryland
> Underemployment rate: 8.3%
> June unemployment rate: 4.1% (tied — 24th highest)
> Average wage: $58,103 (7th highest)
> Labor force growth: 0.7% (22nd smallest increase)

Workers in Maryland are less likely to be underemployed and more likely to be highly compensated than the typical American worker. Some 8.3% of the labor force are underemployed, and the average annual wage across all industries is $58,103. Nationwide, 9.5% of the labor force is underemployed, and the average wage is $53,611.

The state’s better than average economic conditions are are partially attributable to the professional and business services sector, which employs 16.3% of Maryland’s workforce, the sector’s second highest concentration in any state. Professional and business services, a sector that tends to pay relatively well, was also the biggest driver of economic growth in Maryland in 2016.

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32. Montana
> Underemployment rate: 8.3%
> June unemployment rate: 3.9% (tied –22nd lowest)
> Average wage: $40,730 (3rd lowest)
> Labor force growth: 1.3% (16th largest increase)

Montana’s unemployment rate of 3.9% is slightly below the national rate of 4.4%. Similarly, the state’s underemployment rate of 8.3% is slightly more favorable than the national rate of 9.5%. Accounting for the bulk of the difference between Montana’s underemployment and unemployment rate is the 3.4% share of the workers currently employed in part-time jobs when they would prefer to have full-time jobs. Five years ago, Montana’s underemployment rate was 14.9%, compared to the U.S. underemployment rate of 15.6%.

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31. Maine
> Underemployment rate: 8.5%
> June unemployment rate: 3.5% (14th lowest)
> Average wage: $42,602 (8th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 1.2% (19th largest increase)

Maine’s 8.5% underemployment rate is slightly better than the 9.5% U.S. rate. The state’s largest industry by total employment — education and healthcare, which accounts for about 1 in every 5 jobs — was also the biggest driver of GDP growth in 2016. That year, Maine’s economy expanded by 1.4%, and employment expanded by 1.7%.

A healthy economy is often bolstered by a highly-skilled workforce. In Maine, 91.7% of adults have a high school diploma, one of the highest educational attainment rates of any state.