Special Report

Hardest States to Find Full-Time Work

Source: 4nadia / Getty Images

20. Oregon
> Underemployment rate: 8.3%
> May unemployment: 4.1% (21st highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +10.3% (11th highest)
> Average annual wage: $51,134 (20th highest)

Though Oregon’s 4.2% annual unemployment rate is slightly below the 4.4% U.S. rate, 8.3% of workers in the state — including the unemployed — are underemployed to some degree, the same underemployment rate as the country as a whole. Part of the reason is the relatively large share workers in the state unable to find full-time work and forced to take a part-time position. Some 3.4% of workers in Oregon are involuntarily working part-time compared to 3.2% of workers nationwide.

Oregon’s underemployment rate has improved considerably in recent years. In 2010, 20.5% of workers in the state were underemployed, the third highest share of any state in the first quarter of that year.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

19. Florida (tied)
> Underemployment rate: 8.6%
> May unemployment: 3.8% (22nd lowest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +12.4% (4th highest)
> Average annual wage: $48,439 (24th lowest)

As is the case in Georgia, its neighbor to the north, Florida’s underemployment rate is 8.6%. Underemployment in the state is driven up by the 3.7% of workers who want full-time work but are unable to find it and are forced to take a part-time job.

Though slightly higher than the national average, Florida’s 8.6% underemployment rate is a marked improvement from a year ago, when it stood at 10.3% — the 10th highest of any state in the country at the time. Last year, Florida had some of the strongest job growth in the country, with total employment climbing 3.3% — more than enough to keep pace with the state’s 2.9% labor force growth.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

18. Georgia (tied)
> Underemployment rate: 8.6%
> May unemployment: 4.2% (19th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +9.9% (13th highest)
> Average annual wage: $52,162 (19th highest)

The number of workers in Georgia increased by a near nationleading 3.3% last year, more than quadruple the national labor force growth. Job growth in the state was more than enough to meet rising demand for work. Total employment climbed by 3.6% in Georgia in the last year, faster than in all but three states and double the 1.3% employment growth nationwide. Partially as a result, underemployment in the state fell from 9.8% to 8.6%. Economic growth in Georgia was driven by the information sector as well as nondurable goods manufacturing and transportation and warehousing industries.

Source: GCShutter / Getty Images

17. New York (tied)
> Underemployment rate: 8.7%
> May unemployment: 4.5% (10th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +5.2% (25th lowest)
> Average annual wage: $70,538 (the highest)

Job growth in New York has been relatively weak in recent years. Employment in the state climbed by just 5.2% in the last five years, well below the 7.6% employment growth rate nationwide over that time. Last year, employment in the state fell by 0.1% while national employment climbed by 1.3%. Job losses were offset by a diminishing labor force, however, and New York’s annual unemployment rate fell from 4.9% to 4.7%. Currently, some 8.7% of New York’s workforce are underemployed, down from 9.2% last year but still a slightly larger share than the 8.3% of underemployed workers nationwide.

Source: JackieNix / Getty Images

16. Ohio (tied)
> Underemployment rate: 8.7%
> May unemployment: 4.3% (15th highest)
> 5-yr. employment growth: +3.5% (15th lowest)
> Average annual wage: $49,149 (24th highest)

Ohio’s labor force grew by a modest 0.6% last year, and the number of available jobs did not keep pace. Partially as a result, the state’s annual unemployment rate climbed from 4.9% in 2016 to 5.2% in 2017. Despite rising joblessness, the total share of workers who were either unemployed, discourage from looking for work, or forced to take a part-time job instead of a full-time job fell from 9.5% to 8.7% over the past year. The state’s underemployment rate improvement was smaller than the national improvement as nationwide underemployment fell from 9.5% to 8.3% over the same period.