Though by many measures the economy is still recovering rapidly from the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. job growth continues to be strong. Still, many companies and businesses are struggling to find and hire workers as the number of unfilled jobs has hit a multi-decade high in recent months. There were 11.3 million job openings nationwide at the end of January 2022, a 56% increase from a year earlier.
Causes of the historic labor shortage are varied. During the pandemic, early retirements surged, parents of school-age children left the workforce en masse, and immigration slowed considerably – resulting in millions of fewer workers than there otherwise would have been. Additionally, some argue that enhanced unemployment benefits and economic stimulus payments during the pandemic reduced the incentive for many Americans to work. This is what it costs to retire comfortably in each state.
Today, the labor force participation rate – the share of Americans 16 and older either working or looking for work – stands at 62.3%, a low not seen in the pre-pandemic United States since 1977. The national labor shortage is putting a strain on businesses across the country, forcing some to reduce hours and others to close completely.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states with the most job openings. States are ranked by the share of all jobs that were unfilled as of the end of January 2022, the most recent month of available data. Depending on the state, the share of jobs that remain unfilled ranges from 5.8% up to 8.8% of all jobs. For context, 7.0% of jobs nationwide are unfilled.
Despite the need for workers, a small percentage of the labor force remains unemployed, suggesting that among those who are unemployed there is a mismatch between either the skills employers are seeking and the labor pool or the kind of work or benefits job seekers desire and what is available. The national unemployment rate stood at 4.0% in January 2022. Depending on the state, unemployment ranges from 2.2% to 5.9%. Here is a look at the worst states to look for a job.
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