Special Report

Best (and Worst) States to Find a Job in 2022

The U.S. unemployment rate declined to 3.5% in September, a pre-pandemic level initially reached in July before notching up to 3.7% in August. Compared to September 2021, the jobless rate is 1.2 percentage points lower, with some states faring better than others, based on the recently-released Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment report.

The September unemployment rate was lower in 11 states, higher in nine, and remained stable in 30 states compared to the previous month. Twenty-five states now have unemployment rates below the national rate, led by Minnesota at 2%. 

With inflation at a 40-year high, the economy is increasingly becoming a major issue in the upcoming midterm elections, despite a seemingly strong labor market. Out of 10 states playing a significant role in the midterms, five have unemployment rates above the national average: Arizona at 3.7%, Nevada at 4.4%, North Carolina at 3.6%, Pennsylvania at 4.1%, and Ohio 4%. (These are the states where job openings are disappearing right now.)

While the labor market, including the unemployment rate, is an important aspect for those looking for a job, other factors play a role. To determine the best states to find a job, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed marketing agency TOP’s report Best States to Find a Job 2022. Using 51 metrics, TOP compared the 50 states across five dimensions: state economy, compensation and benefits, job market, quality of life, and business friendliness. 

Indeed, the top five states also rank in the top 10 in TOP’s labor market dimension. No. 1 ranked Utah also places in the top 10 in business friendliness and state economy. The No. 2 ranked state, Massachusetts, boasts the highest compensation of all states and ranks No. 2 in business friendliness.

We supplemented TOP’s ranking with other measures, including median household income, September 2022 unemployment rate and one-year change in jobless rate, venture capital per capita, and startup density.

It is interesting to note that the relationship between the amount of venture capital (money that is invested in creating new enterprises) and the unemployment rate do not always correlate.

For example, California has the second-highest amount of venture capital per capita at $3,957, while Florida’s venture capital is 22nd highest at just $252 per person. Still, California’s unemployment rate is much higher than Florida’s, at 3.9% compared to 2.5%.

Nevertheless, venture capital does play an important role in creating new enterprises and jobs. States with the highest amount of VC funding tend to have higher startup densities. Mississippi and West Virginia rank at the bottom in startup density and also have among the lowest VC per capita in the country. (These are cities that will add the most jobs by 2060 according to economists.)

Here are the best states to find a job.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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