The U.S. is currently grappling with a massive labor shortage. During the pandemic, early retirements surged, parents of school-age children left the workforce en masse, and immigration slowed considerably. This led to millions of fewer workers than there otherwise would have been. Meanwhile, American workers – primarily in low-wage sectors – continued to quit their jobs in record numbers in search of better opportunities.
Currently, 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. This is what it costs to retire comfortably in each state.
The national shortage of workers has left employers struggling to fill open positions – forcing some businesses to reduce hours of operation and others to shutter completely. There were 11.3 million job openings nationwide at the end of January 2022, a 56% increase from a year earlier – and in much of the country, the problem shows few signs of slowing. In the last month alone, 18 states reported an increase in the number of unfilled jobs.
Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. identified the states where job openings are surging. States are ranked by the change in the number of open jobs between December 2021 and January 2022, the most recent months of available data.
Of the 50 states, 30 reported a month-to-month drop in unfilled jobs, two reported no change, and 18 reported an increase – in half a dozen of those, job openings surged by over 10%.
Despite the need for workers, many members of the labor force are unemployed, suggesting 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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