Hardest States to Find Full-Time Work

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10. Illinois
> Underemployment rate: 9.2%
> May unemployment: 4.3% (15th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +3.0% (13th lowest)
> Average annual wage: $57,980 (8th highest)

Underemployment has been more common in Illinois than the U.S. as a whole since the end of the recession. Currently, 9.2% of the state’s workforce are underemployed, well above the 8.3% U.S. underemployment rate. Weak job growth is partially to blame. Employment climbed by a modest 3.0% over the last five years, a much slower pace than the nationwide employment growth of 7.6% over the same period.

While joblessness and underemployment are considerable problems in Illinois, conditions appear to be improving rapidly. The state’s 2017 unemployment rate of 5.2% is nearly a full percentage point below the 2016 unemployment rate of 6.1%. And the state’s unemployment rate for May 2018 stands at an even lower 4.3%.

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9. Arizona (tied)
> Underemployment rate: 9.3%
> May unemployment: 4.7% (5th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +12.3% (5th highest)
> Average annual wage: $50,164 (22nd highest)

Over the last year, Arizona’s labor force grew by 2.6%, more than the comparable growth rate in all but a handful of other states. Job growth more than kept pace with demand for work as employment climbed by 3.2% over the same period. Meanwhile, Arizona’s economy expanded by 3.2%, far faster than national GDP growth of 2.1% last year.

Due in part to rapid economic growth and job creation in the state, underemployment fell considerably from 10.9% to 9.3% over the past year. Still, underemployment remains a bigger problem in Arizona than the U.S. as whole as just 8.3% of the U.S. workforce are underemployed.

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8. Louisiana (tied)
> Underemployment rate: 9.3%
> May unemployment: 4.6% (8th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +3.8% (18th lowest)
> Average annual wage: $46,498 (19th lowest)

Annual underemployment remained relatively low in Louisiana following the recession. However, as the U.S. job market rapidly improved in recent years, Louisiana’s remained relatively stagnant. Now at 9.3%, Louisiana’s underemployment rate is higher than in all but six other states. Over the last five years, employment in the state grew by a modest 3.8%, half the comparable national growth.

Last year, employment in the state actually fell by 1.2%. The same year, Louisiana’s economy contracted by 0.2%, dragged down largely by the nondurable goods manufacturing sector as well as transportation and warehousing.

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7. Pennsylvania (tied)
> Underemployment rate: 9.3%
> May unemployment: 4.5% (10th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +2.9% (10th lowest)
> Average annual wage: $54,000 (15th highest)

Pennsylvania’s 9.3% underemployment rate is more than double its current unemployment rate of 4.5% and a full percentage point above the U.S. underemployment rate of 8.3%. Job growth has been weak in the state in recent years. Employment climbed by just 2.9% in Pennsylvania over the last half decade, slower than in most states and well below the 7.6% U.S. employment growth over that time.

Underemployment in the state is driven up by the relatively large share of workers forced to take a part-time job in lieu of full-time work. Some 3.4% of workers fall into that category and are not captured by the traditional unemployment rate. For reference, nationwide, 3.2% of workers are forced to take a part-time job.

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6. California
> Underemployment rate: 9.4%
> May unemployment: 4.2% (19th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +10.7% (9th highest)
> Average annual wage: $65,811 (4th highest)

California has the largest workforce in the United States and one of the largest shares of underemployed workers. Some 9.4% of the state’s 19.2 million workers are underemployed, a larger share than the 8.3% of worker’s nationwide. Underemployment is high in the state despite lower competition for jobs. Just 58.9% of all working-age Californians participate in the labor force, lower than the nationwide labor force participation rate of 60.1%.

Underemployment in California is driven largely by a high share of workers forced to take a part-time job in lieu of full-time work. Some 4.0% of workers in the state fall into that category, the largest share of any state and well above the comparable 3.2% share of workers nationwide.