The number of unfilled jobs has hit multi-decade highs in recent months, and businesses across the country are struggling to find and hire workers. There were more than 11 million job openings nationwide at the end of May 2022, the most recent available period, just shy of the all-time high reported earlier this year, and 17% more than in May 2021.
There are several causes explaining this historic labor shortage. 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. 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 62.2%, a low not seen in the pre-pandemic United States since the 1970s. The national labor shortage is putting a strain on American business, forcing some employers 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 May 2022, the most recent month of available data. Depending on the state, the share of jobs that remain unfilled ranges from 5.4% to 8.4%. Nationwide, 6.9% of jobs are unfilled.
Despite the need for workers, a small percentage of the labor force remains unemployed, suggesting a mismatch – either between the skills employers are seeking and the labor pool, or the kind of work or benefits job seekers desire and what employers offer. The national unemployment rate was 3.6% in May 2022. Depending on the state, unemployment rates range from 1.9% to 5.7%. (Here is a look at the states where unemployment is at an all time low.)
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