The US States With the Best Job Market – A Full Analysis

Finding the job of your dreams isn’t always easy. Especially if you live somewhere with limited employment opportunities.

When it comes to work, not all states were made the same. There are regions where workers get more money and access to numerous job openings. These are the states with the best job market as opposed to those where finding a vacancy is nearly impossible.

What makes a state an attractive destination for job seekers? What are the best and worst states for people looking for their first employment?

We have all the answers you need.

 

Our Methodology for Ranking the States With the Best Job Market

Discovering your top employment destination demands analyzing several criteria. Before making our final ranking, we focused on aspects that give information about separate segments of a state’s job market. Find all about the evaluation criteria used in our ranking methodology below.

  • Most job opportunities and employment growth – States that have thousands of open positions, naturally, give you better chances to find a job. We also pay attention to employment growth and whether the market is rising or declining. The best states to find a job have increasing employment rates.
  • Unemployment rate – This is another essential criterion as states with low unemployment rates have the best job markets. Did the unemployment rate drop or increase in the past few years? What are the forecasts for the upcoming years? All these are relevant questions that help us rank the states.
  • Average and median income – Both are important when ranking states regarding their job markets. We prefer states with high average and median incomes because they provide better opportunities to American workers.
  • Average starting salary – Another essential factor when evaluating the best states for employment since people who are just starting their careers need to have a reasonable salary too. So, states whose average is higher always get a better overall ranking.
  • Average commute time – Young professionals looking for their first employment often overlook this. Yet, the average commute time to work can be a serious deal-breaker. Not everyone is willing to travel for more than one hour to their workplace. So, destinations with low average commute time rank better in our list of states with the best job outlook.
  • Job satisfaction level and working hours – We never overlook the importance of job satisfaction and work-life balance. While some states have lots of vacancies, they can’t boast with happy workers. That’s why we considered this factor in our ranking.

 

Best US States for Employment From Best to Worst

Below, we will analyze the states from best to worst by their job market and employment opportunities. We first ranked each state in the different categories, as described below. Then, we listed them by their overall ranking.

Meaning, the top states for jobs have many open positions but also reasonable starting salaries, high wages, and low commute time. Please keep in mind that states with the same figures for a specific factor got identical rankings.

 

State 2019 Employed in Thousands 2019 Unemployed in Thousands 2019 Unemployment Rate Q4 2019 Average Weekly Wage in $
United States 157,538 6,001 3.7 1,185
Alabama 2,174 67 3.0 985     
Alaska 326 21 6.1 1,139
Arizona 3,385 167 4.7 1,059
Arkansas 1,314 48 3.5 898     
California 18,627 784 4.0 1,457
Colorado 3,062 87 2.8 1,227
Connecticut 1,842 71 3.7 1,383
Delaware 469 18 3.8 1,136
D.C. 387 22 5.5 1,992
Florida 10,016 321 3.1 1,044
Georgia 4,935 175 3.4 1,090
Hawaii 647 18 2.7 1,053
Idaho 856 26 2.9 918     
Illinois 6,191 256 4.0 1,221
Indiana 3,275 112 3.3 969     
Iowa 1,691 48 2.7 984     
Kansas 1,440 47 3.2 959     
Kentucky 1,984 89 4.3 955     
Louisiana 1,994 101 4.8 993     
Maine 672 21 3.0 955     
Maryland 3,144 117 3.6 1,271
Massachusetts 3,707 111 2.9 1,511
Michigan 4,736 201 4.1 1,115
Minnesota 3,009 100 3.2 1,177
Mississippi 1,207 69 5.4 818     
Missouri 2,982 102 3.3 1,010
Montana 515 19 3.5 918
Nebraska 1,004 32 3.0 969     
Nevada 1,482 60 3.9 1,030
New Hampshire 754 20 2.5 1,192
New Jersey 4,333 160 3.6 1,332
New Mexico 908 46 4.9 942     
New York 9,138 377 4.0 1,499
North Carolina 4,884 197 3.9 1,036
North Dakota 394 10 2.4 1,085
Ohio 5,564 239 4.1 1,037
Oklahoma 1,781 61 3.3 945     
Oregon 2,025 79 3.7 1,100
Pennsylvania 6,208 284 4.4 1,143
Rhode Island 536 20 3.6 1,099
South Carolina 2,308 68 3.9 931     
South Dakota 449 15 3.3 916     
Tennessee 3,232 113 3.4 1,047
Texas 13,552 494 3.5 1,187
Utah 1,566 42 2.6 1,022
Vermont 334 8 2.4 987     
Virginia 4,289 123 2.8 1,204
Washington 3,748 166 4.3 1,370
West Virginia 758 39 4.9 904    
Wisconsin 3,001 104 3.3 1,022
Wyoming 282 11 3.6 1,007

 

1. Massachusetts

Massachusetts earned the top spot on our list of states with the best job market. The Bay State boasts 3.70 million employed people and an unemployment rate of only 3%. 

Massachusetts also has a fairly short average working week (38.1 hours), but the commute time isn’t the best (30.5 minutes). Workers in this state are satisfied but not ecstatic about their jobs. Massachusetts boasts an excellent average starting salary of $35,412 and a fantastic average weekly wage of $1,511.

All these figures show that there are plenty of employment opportunities in Massachusetts and good ones too, which is why it is leading the way of US states with the best job prospects.

Massachusetts rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 6 (2.9%)
  • Average starting salary – 3 ($35,412)
  • Average weekly wage – 2 ($1,511)
  • Total job openings – 13 (149,000)
  • Most job hires – 15 (112,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 25 (47,000)
  • Average hours worked – 4 (38.1 hours)
  • Average commute time – 41 (30.5 minutes)

 

2. New York

With 9.13 million employees and 392,000 open positions, New York scored a second place on this list. This is the second-best state for jobs with high entry salaries and hefty wages too. New York prides itself on an average starting salary of $35,750 and an average wage of $1,499/week. Combined with a fantastic number of new hires (281,000), these figures placed New York among the top job-creating states.

New York rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 17 (4%)
  • Average starting salary – 2 ($35,750)
  • Average weekly wage – 3 ($1,499)
  • Total job openings – 4 (392,000)
  • Most job hires – 4 (282,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 36 (126,000)
  • Average hours worked – 7 (38.4 hours)
  • Average commute time – 44 (34 minutes)

 

3. California

California has 18.6 million employed residents and only 784,000 unemployed. This is the best state for job opportunities, especially for first-time employees. California leads the way in both open positions and new hires. This makes the Golden State the leader among the states that need workers. California is also among the top five for an average weekly wage. The only deal-breakers are the large number of layoffs and the long commute time.

California meanwhile is one of the most federally dependent states with the highest number of Medicaid and CHIP participants.

California rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 17 (4%)
  • Average starting salary – 13 ($32,042)
  • Average weekly wage – 4 ($1,457)
  • Total job openings – 1 (739,000)
  • Most job hires – 1 (572,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 37 (218,000)
  • Average hours worked – 6 (38.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 40 (30.2 minutes)

 

4. Minnesota

Minnesota is another top pick among the best states to find a job. About three million people living here are employed, and only 100,000 are unemployed. Minnesota is among the top 10 states with the lowest unemployment rate and has a reasonable average weekly wage. Besides being the best state to find a job in the Midwest, Minnesota also boasts high employee satisfaction rates courtesy of the reasonable average workweek and commute time.

Minnesota rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 9 (3.2%)
  • Average starting salary – 21 ($30,740)
  • Average weekly wage – 14 ($1,177)
  • Total job openings – 20 (121,000)
  • Most job hires – 22 (84,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges –18 (30,000)
  • Average hours worked – 6 (38.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 15 (23.8 minutes)

 

5. Virginia

Most Americans recognize Virginia as one of the best states for an IT job. This state, however, is also the fifth best state for employment opportunities. With an unemployment rate of only 2.8% and nearly 210,000 open positions, Virginia is firmly in the running for the best state to get a job, with 4.28 million people having a job compared to only 123,000 unemployed residents.

Virginia rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 5 (2.8%)
  • Average starting salary – 14 ($31,899)
  • Average weekly wage – 11 ($1,204)
  • Total job openings – 11 (209,000)
  • Most job hires – 9 (160,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 26 (47,000)
  • Average hours worked – 14 (39.2)
  • Average commute time – 37 (28.7)

 

6. Washington

Even with an unemployment rate of 4.3%, Washington is among the states with the most job opportunities. This destination is great for Americans looking for their first employment as it has a strong average starting salary. Workers in the Evergreen State love their jobs, and the reasonable average hours worked surely contribute to this.

Washington rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 19 (4.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 4 ($35,164)
  • Average weekly wage – 6 ($1,370)
  • Total job openings – 17 (136,000)
  • Most job hires – 17 (105,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 27 (48,000)
  • Average hours worked – 10 (38.7 hours)
  • Average commute time – 36 (28.4 minutes)

 

7. Connecticut

Anyone looking for the best states for jobs should consider moving to Connecticut. This is the seventh-best destination when it comes to job availability by state. Connecticut has 1.84 million employed and as few as 71,000 unemployed residents. The average entry salary stands at $32,808, while the average wage is $1,383. 

Connecticut rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 14 (3.7%)
  • Average starting salary – 8 ($32,808)
  • Average weekly wage – 5 ($1,383)
  • Total job openings – 30 (65,000)
  • Most job hires – 29 (55,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 15 (24,000)
  • Average hours worked – 5 (38.2 hours)
  • Average commute time – 32 (26.8 minutes)

 

8. Colorado

Colorado is one of the states with the most job opportunities and lowest unemployment rate. There are 3.06 million employed and 87,000 unemployed Coloradans. People mostly love their jobs and get a fairly high average wage. There are 117,000 open positions in Colorado, and this figure has been growing over the years.

Colorado rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 5 (2.8%)
  • Average starting salary – 25 ($30,620)
  • Average weekly wage – 9 ($1,227)
  • Total job openings – 22 (117,000)
  • Most job hires – 18 (101,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 19 (33,000)
  • Average hours worked – 14 (39.2 hours)
  • Average commute time – 27 (25.9 minutes)

 

9. Maryland

With an unemployment rate of 3.6% and 139,000 open positions, Maryland belongs among the states with the best job growth. This state gives employment to 3.14 million people, with only 117,000 unemployed. The average commute time of 33.3 minutes is the only serious disadvantage of working in this state.

Maryland rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 13 (3.6%)
  • Average starting salary – 7 ($32,818)
  • Average weekly wage – 8 ($1,271)
  • Total job openings – 16 (139,000)
  • Most job hires – 20 (99,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 20 (34,000)
  • Average hours worked – 12 (38.9 hours)
  • Average commute time – 43 (33.3 minutes)

 

10. Ohio

Ohio is the last one among the top 10 states with the best job market. This market counts a high 5.56 million employed and only 239,000 unemployed residents. Ohio also ranked sixth on the list of most hires with 197,000 new employments. Besides being the eight state with most jobs available, Ohio also ranks well regarding hours worked per week.

Ohio rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 18 (4.1%)
  • Average starting salary – 26 ($30,419)
  • Average weekly wage – 27 ($1,037)
  • Total job openings – 8 (251,000)
  • Most job hires – 6 (197,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 32 (69,000)
  • Average hours worked – 9 (38.6 hours)
  • Average commute time – 14 (23.6 minutes)

 

11. North Dakota

North Dakota is the US state with the lowest unemployment rate — only 2.4%. This earned it a spot among the best states to find a job this year. However, North Dakota doesn’t impress with its job growth by state ranking. Still, North Dakotans are satisfied with their employment, and the average commute time of 17.7 minutes plays a significant role.

North Dakota rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 1 (2.4%)
  • Average starting salary – 9 ($32,592)
  • Average weekly wage – 22 ($1,085)
  • Total job openings – 42 (23,000)
  • Most job hires – 41 (19,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 2 (7,000)
  • Average hours worked – 23 (40.4 hours)
  • Average commute time – 2 (17.7 minutes)

 

12. New Jersey

New Jersey has 4.33 million employees and 182,000 open positions. With only 160,000 unemployed residents, the Garden State is a top pick among the states with the most jobs. New Jersey’s strongest suit is the high average weekly wage of $1,332.

New Jersey rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 13 (3.6%)
  • Average starting salary – 17 ($31,116)
  • Average weekly wage – 7 ($1,332)
  • Total job openings – 12 (182,000)
  • Most job hires – 13 (121,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 28 (58,000)
  • Average hours worked – 10 (38.7 hours)
  • Average commute time – 42 (32.4 minutes)

 

13. Utah

Utah has an average working week of 37.1 hours and an unemployment rate of 2.6%. These two are the state’s strongest reasons for ranking so high on our list of best states for jobs. Utah workers report high job satisfaction levels and reasonable commute time.

Utah Rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 3 (2.6%)
  • Average starting salary – 30 ($30,139)
  • Average weekly wage – 30 ($1,022)
  • Total job openings – 29 (69,000)
  • Most job hires – 28 (60,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 12 (21,000)
  • Average hours worked – 1 (37.1 hours)
  • Average commute time – 10 (22 minutes)

 

14. Oregon

Oregon belongs in the better half when ranking job openings by state, and boasts high job satisfaction levels. There are 2.02 million employed and only 79,000 unemployed. 

Oregon rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 14 (3.7%)
  • Average starting salary – 22 ($30,665)
  • Average weekly wage – 19 ($1,100)
  • Total job openings – 24 (94,000)
  • Most job hires – 25 (72,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 22 (37,000)
  • Average hours worked – 2 (37.9 hours)
  • Average commute time – 15 (23.8 minutes)

 

15. Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is one of the states with the most job opportunities, but with unhappy employees. Over 6.20 million people work in this state, and there are nearly 280,000 available positions too. 

Pennsylvania rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 20 (4.4%)
  • Average starting salary – 19 ($30,928)
  • Average weekly wage – 15 ($1,143)
  • Total job openings – 5 (277,000)
  • Most job hires – 7 (185,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 34 (93,000)
  • Average hours worked – 10 (38.7 hours)
  • Average commute time – 33 (27.2 minutes)

 

16. Wisconsin

Wisconsin workers have reasonable average commute time and work 38.8 hours a week. That’s why the general job satisfaction is in the positive area. Wisconsin also ranks 10th for unemployment and is one of the top job-creating states.

Wisconsin rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 10 (3.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 27 ($30,346)
  • Average weekly wage – 30 ($1,022)
  • Total job openings – 14 (144,000)
  • Most job hires – 19 (100,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 23 (41,000)
  • Average hours worked – 11 (38.8 hours)
  • Average commute time – 10 (22 minutes)

 

17. New Hampshire

New Hampshire is the second-best state regarding the unemployment rate. Only 20,000 people in New Hampshire aren’t employed. With a growing IT industry, the state has established itself as one of the best states for IT jobs.

New Hampshire rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 2 (2.5%)
  • Average starting salary – 5 ($34,464)
  • Average weekly wage – 12 ($1,192)
  • Total job openings – 38 (31,000)
  • Most job hires – 38 (22,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 5 (11,000)
  • Average hours worked – 9 (38.6 hours)
  • Average commute time – 34 (27.6 minutes)

 

18. Tennessee

Most of the 3.23 million people employed in Tennessee love their jobs which makes it one of the best states for jobs. This state is in the top 20 regarding the unemployment rate, total job openings, and most job hires. It also has a reasonably long work week and acceptable commute times. That’s why it ended up the 18th best state for job opportunities.

Tennessee rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 11 (3.4%)
  • Average starting salary – 24 ($30,640)
  • Average weekly wage – 25 ($1,047)
  • Total job openings – 18 (134,000)
  • Most job hires – 11 (136,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 21 (36,000)
  • Average hours worked – 15 (39.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 25 (25.4 minutes)

 

19. Nebraska

Nebraska is among the best states for jobs thanks to its low average commute time and high average starting salary. People in entry positions in Nebraska make, on average, $32,323. The state’s jobless rate is only 3%.

Nebraska rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 7 (3%)
  • Average starting salary – 12 ($32,323)
  • Average weekly wage – 37 ($969)
  • Total job openings – 33 (50,000)
  • Most job hires – 34 (38,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 7 (14,000)
  • Average hours worked – 17 (39.5 hours)
  • Average commute time – 4 (18.8 minutes)

 

20. Vermont

Vermont has an unemployment rate of 2.4% and the lowest number of layoffs and discharges. The average working week is 37.9 hours and employees are satisfied with their jobs. So, that’s how the Green Mountain state scored the 20th position on our list of best states for employment.

Vermont rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 1 (2.4%)
  • Average starting salary – 11 ($32,364)
  • Average weekly wage – 34 ($987)
  • Total job openings – 45 (17,000)
  • Most job hires – 43 (13,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 1 (6,000)
  • Average hours worked – 2 (37.9 hours)
  • Average commute time – 14 (23.6 minutes)

 

21. Michigan

Michigan is the 21st best state to find a job, ranking 10th for both open positions and most hires. First-time employees have a low starting salary, but the average weekly wage is a reasonable $1,115. 

Michigan rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 18 (4.1%)
  • Average starting salary – 39 ($28,743)
  • Average weekly wage – 18 ($1,115)
  • Total job openings – 10 (225,000)
  • Most job hires – 10 (149,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 31 (65,000)
  • Average hours worked – 6 (38.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 19 (24.7 minutes)

 

22. Idaho

While Idaho isn’t among the leading states that need workers it has a low unemployment rate and a solid average starting salary. The state also ranked well when we considered the layoffs, average hours worked per week, and average commute time.

Idaho rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 6 (2.9%)
  • Average starting salary – 9 ($32,592)
  • Average weekly wage – 43 ($918)
  • Total job openings – 37 (35,000)
  • Most job hires – 35 (32,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 6 (12,000)
  • Average hours worked – 8 (38.5 hours)
  • Average commute time – 8 (21 minutes)

 

23. Texas

Texas has over 13.55 million employed residents and nearly half a million unemployed. The Lone Star state is a huge and growing job market, with nearly 500,000 job openings and an unemployment rate of 3.5%. Almost 470,000 new hires make it one of the top states for jobs

Texas rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 12 (3.5%)
  • Average starting salary – 37 ($28,878)
  • Average weekly wage – 13 ($1,187)
  • Total job openings – 2 (496,000)
  • Most job hires – 2 (469,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 36 (149,000)
  • Average hours worked – 21 (40 hours)
  • Average commute time – 31 (26.7 minutes)

 

24. Hawaii

Hawaiians love their jobs. The state also boasts low unemployment and a small number of layoffs. With an average starting salary of $34,010, this may be the best state to get a job that you are happy with. 

Hawaii rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 4 (2.7%)
  • Average starting salary – 6 ($34,010)
  • Average weekly wage – 24 ($1,053)
  • Total job openings – 39 (30,000)
  • Most job hires – 38 (22,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 1 (6,000)
  • Average hours worked – 9 (38.6 hours)
  • Average commute time – 34 (27.6 minutes)

 

25. Rhode Island

Rhode Island marks the end of the better half of this list of states with the best job market. The Ocean State boasts an average starting salary of $32,541 and 38 average hours worked per week. It also has a favorable unemployment rate of 3.6%.

Rhode Island rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 13 (3.6%)
  • Average starting salary – 10 ($32,541)
  • Average weekly wage – 20 ($1,099)
  • Total job openings – 43 (22,000)
  • Most job hires – 42 (16,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 3 (9,000)
  • Average hours worked – 3 (38 hours)
  • Average commute time – 22 (25 minutes)

 

26. Nevada

Nevada has 1.48 million employed and only 60,000 unemployed individuals. The largest employer in this state is the tourism industry, meaning it’s one of the states with the best job market in the field. Nevada is among the top 10 states for average entry-level salary, with its $32,592. Still, the overall job market growth here isn’t the best.

Nevada rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 16 (3.9%)
  • Average starting salary – 9 ($32,592)
  • Average weekly wage – 29 ($1,030)
  • Total job openings – 31 (62,000)
  • Most job hires – 29 (55,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 12 (21,000)
  • Average hours worked – 11 (38.8 hours)
  • Average commute time – 21 (24.9 minutes)

 

27. Arizona

Arizona is one of the states that need workers but have average job satisfaction rates. There are 3.38 million employed people and 132,000 job openings. While the average $30,283 starting salary is hardly impressive, the average weekly wage is decent.

Arizona rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 21 (4.7%)
  • Average starting salary – 28 ($30,283)
  • Average weekly wage – 23 ($1,059)
  • Total job openings – 19 (132,000)
  • Most job hires – 14 (113,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 16 (26,000)
  • Average hours worked – 11 (38.8 hours)
  • Average commute time – 26 (25.7 minutes)

 

28. Delaware

Despite having the highest average salary for entry-level positions, workers in Delaware are mostly unhappy with their jobs. This state has an unemployment rate of 3.8%, a solid average weekly wage of $1,136, and the least layoffs. That’s one of the reasons why Delaware has the highest average retirement savings by state. It is also one of the best states to find a job agriculture, fishing industry, and manufacturing

Delaware rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 15 (3.8%)
  • Average starting salary – 1 ($30,661)
  • Average weekly wage – 17 ($1,136)
  • Total job openings – 43 (22,000)
  • Most job hires – 41 (19,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 1 (6,000)
  • Average hours worked – 11 (38.8 hours)
  • Average commute time – 29 (26.4 minutes)

 

29. Illinois

Workers in Illinois are mostly satisfied with their jobs and average weekly wage of $1,221. Illinois ranked 7th for total job openings and 5th for most hires. So, Illinois belongs among the states with the best job growth. Its low average starting salary and high commute time, however, contributed to its low ranking.

Illinois rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 17 (4%)
  • Average starting salary – 41 ($28,565)
  • Average weekly wage – 10 ($1,221)
  • Total job openings – 7 (267,000)
  • Most job hires – 5 (213,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 30 (62,000)
  • Average hours worked – 9 (38.6 hours)
  • Average commute time – 39 (29.4 minutes)

 

30. Indiana

Indiana boasts a low unemployment rate of 3.3%, and it’s another contender for the best state for employment opportunities. The average starting salary and weekly wage in Indiana, however, disappoint. 

Indiana rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 10 (3.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 31 ($30,089)
  • Average weekly wage – 36 ($969)
  • Total job openings – 15 (140,000)
  • Most job hires – 12 (134,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 26 (45,000)
  • Average hours worked – 13 (39 hours)
  • Average commute time – 16 (23.9 minutes)

 

31. Montana

Montana ranked 31st on this list of states with the most jobs. This state, however, is an excellent place for happy employment with a high average starting salary, a short average commute time, and a low typical number of hours worked. 

Montana rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 12 (3.5%)
  • Average starting salary – 9 ($32,592)
  • Average weekly wage – 44 ($918)
  • Total job openings – 42 (23,000)
  • Most job hires – 40 (20,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 6 (12,000)
  • Average hours worked – 4 (38.1 hours)
  • Average commute time – 3 (18.6 minutes)

 

32. Kentucky

Kentucky is average in many aspects when it comes to analyzing the states with the best job prospects. The state, however, has an unemployment rate of 4.3% and fewer than 90,000 job openings. 

Kentucky rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 19 (4.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 15 ($31,257)
  • Average weekly wage – 39 ($955)
  • Total job openings – 26 (86,000)
  • Most job hires – 24 (73,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 13 (22,000)
  • Average hours worked – 12 (38.9 hours)
  • Average commute time – 13 (23.5 minutes)

 

33. Iowa

While Iowa’s unemployment rate is among the lowest, the state doesn’t rank well regarding job openings by state, and with modest wages, is hardly the place for scoring a well-paid position.

Iowa rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 4 (2.7%)
  • Average starting salary – 35 ($29,505)
  • Average weekly wage – 35 ($984)
  • Total job openings – 28 (74,000)
  • Most job hires – 30 (53,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 13 (22,000)
  • Average hours worked – 12 (38.9 hours)
  • Average commute time – 6 (19.5 minutes)

 

34. Florida

Florida is among the best states to find a job in the tourism, agriculture, and trade industries. While it boasts over 10 million employed residents, most of those, unfortunately, hate their jobs and have a low average starting salary. 

Florida Rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 8 (3.1%)
  • Average starting salary – 45 ($27,535)
  • Average weekly wage – 26 ($1,044)
  • Total job openings – 3 (422,000)
  • Most job hires – 3 (364,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 33 (86,000)
  • Average hours worked – 12 (38.9 hours)
  • Average commute time – 35 (28 minutes)

 

35. North Carolina

North Carolina ranks high on the list of job availability by state with 276,000 open positions while scoring low on our list of states with the best job market. People working in this state are mostly happy with their employment, even though the average starting salary isn’t high. 

North Carolina rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 16 (3.9%)
  • Average starting salary – 46 ($26,219)
  • Average weekly wage – 28 ($1,036)
  • Total job openings – 6 (276,000)
  • Most job hires – 6 (197,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 29 (59,000)
  • Average hours worked – 15 (39.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 20 (24.8 minutes)

 

36. Kansas

Kansas doesn’t have too many job opportunities, but it still maintains a reasonable unemployment rate of 3.2%. The state’s workforce is mostly happy with job conditions. This isn’t surprising, knowing that the average commute time in Kansas is less than 20 minutes. So, Kansas isn’t a leader among the states with the best job market, but it’s a place where employees are happy.

Kansas rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 9 (3.2%)
  • Average starting salary – 29 ($30,152)
  • Average weekly wage – 38 ($959)
  • Total job openings – 30 (65,000)
  • Most job hires – 31 (46,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 9 (16,000)
  • Average hours worked – 14 (39.2 hours)
  • Average commute time – 7 (19.7 minutes)

 

37. Georgia

This state has a long average commute time and among the lowest average starting salaries. Georgia, however, holds the 9th job growth by state ranking.

Georgia Rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 11 (3.4%)
  • Average starting salary – 36 ($29,214)
  • Average weekly wage – 21 ($1,090)
  • Total job openings – 9 (228,000)
  • Most job hires – 8 (178,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 29 (59,000)
  • Average hours worked – 16 (39.4 hours)
  • Average commute time – 38 (29 minutes)

 

38. Alaska

Alaska ranks low among the states with the best job market, but it isn’t a bad destination for holding a job. This state has a stable entry-level salary of nearly $33,000 and a short average commute time of under 20 minutes. Its main drawbacks are the small number of employment opportunities and new hires.

Alaska rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 26 (6.1%)
  • Average starting salary – 9 ($32,592)
  • Average weekly wage – 16 ($1,139)
  • Total job openings – 46 (16,000)
  • Most job hires – 44 (12,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 3 (9,000)
  • Average hours worked – 24 (41.7 hours)
  • Average commute time – 5 (19.1 minutes)

 

39. Missouri

People working in the state of Missouri are generally satisfied with their jobs. This is interesting because both the starting salary and the weekly wage are low. Significant industries in Missouri are aerospace, financial services, and electrical equipment which makes it one of the states with the most job opportunities in these particular sectors.

Missouri Rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 10 (3.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 44 ($28,175)
  • Average weekly wage – 31 ($1,010)
  • Total job openings – 21 (120,000)
  • Most job hires – 16 (109,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 24 (44,000)
  • Average hours worked – 12 (38.9 hours)
  • Average commute time – 17 (24 minutes)

 

40. South Carolina

South Carolina is another major employment center in the US. This state has 2.30 million employed residents and is among the best states for jobs in the aerospace, automotive, and transportation industries.

South Carolina rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 16 (3.9%)
  • Average starting salary – 20 ($30,768)
  • Average weekly wage – 42 ($931)
  • Total job openings – 23 (97,000)
  • Most job hires – 21 (86,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 17 (27,000)
  • Average hours worked – 13 (39 hours)
  • Average commute time – 23 (25.1 minutes)

 

41. Oklahoma

With an unemployment rate of 3.3%, Oklahoma holds the 10th position in this regard. The state, however, has a low average entry-level salary and not enough job opportunities, along with disappointing wages which means it’s not among the best states to find a job

Oklahoma Rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 10 (3.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 32 ($30,041)
  • Average weekly wage – 40 ($945)
  • Total job openings – 27 (76,000)
  • Most job hires – 27 (61,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 10 (19,000)
  • Average hours worked – 20 (39.8 hours)
  • Average commute time – 11 (22.1 minutes)

 

42. South Dakota

People in South Dakota are satisfied with their jobs, despite an average weekly wage of only $916. With 3.3% unemployment and the shortest commute time, South Dakota underperforms in job openings and hires, which puts it in the 42nd place among the states with the best job outlook.

South Dakota rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 10 (3.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 16 ($31,184)
  • Average weekly wage – 45 ($916)
  • Total job openings – 44 (20,000)
  • Most job hires – 42 (16,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 2 (7,000)
  • Average hours worked – 18 (39.6 hours)
  • Average commute time – 1 (17.3 minutes)

 

43. D.C.

The District of Columbia is the destination where Americans get the highest average starting salary and the average weekly wage. D.C. is the best state for employment opportunities in the federal government, professional services, higher education, and technology. It, however, has a small number of employment opportunities and hires too, hence its low position in our ranking of the states with the best job market.

Note, the figures for average hours worked and average commute time are from a different source. So, these may be a bit higher than the ones from the rest states.

D.C. Rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 25 (5.5%)
  • Average starting salary – 1 ($42,000)
  • Average weekly wage – 1 ($1,992)
  • Total job openings – 40 (29,000)
  • Most job hires – 40 (20,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 2 (7,000)
  • Average hours worked – 25 (43.5 hours)
  • Average commute time – 46 (56.4 minutes)

 

44. Alabama

About 2.17 million Americans hold a job in Alabama. Most of them are averagely satisfied with their employment. This destination is one of the states with the best job prospects for professionals in the automotive, chemicals, and technology industries. Alabama is average when it comes to open positions and hires, but it lags in terms of starting salary.

Alabama rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 7 (3%)
  • Average starting salary – 42 ($28,530)
  • Average weekly wage – 34 ($985)
  • Total job openings – 25 (92,000)
  • Most job hires – 26 (68,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 11 (20,000)
  • Average hours worked – 13 (39 hours)
  • Average commute time – 24 (25.2 minutes)

 

45. Maine

While Maine has a low jobless rate and very few layoffs, it’s not among the best states for jobs. Both the average starting salary and the average weekly wage in Maine are low, plus there aren’t many hires.

Maine rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 7 (3%)
  • Average starting salary – 33 ($29,934)
  • Average weekly wage – 39 ($955)
  • Total job openings – 41 (28,000)
  • Most job hires – 40 (20,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 5 (11,000)
  • Average hours worked – 6 (38.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 18 (24.1 minutes)

 

46. New Mexico

New Mexico has over 908,000 employed residents who are mostly happy with their jobs which is surprising given the comparatively low salaries. New Mexico is not one of the best states for jobs because it has very few job openings compared to other destinations.

New Mexico rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 23 (4.9%)
  • Average starting salary – 38 ($28,816)
  • Average weekly wage – 41 ($942)
  • Total job openings – 35 (40,000)
  • Most job hires – 36 (29,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 4 (10,000)
  • Average hours worked – 6 (38.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 12 (23 minutes)

 

47. Arkansas

Arkansas has a low average entry-level salary of $28,722 and an average weekly wage of under $900 which placed it so low on our list of the top states for jobs. Still, residents from this state love their jobs, and the average commute time of 21.7 minutes plays its role. 

Arkansas rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 12 (3.5%)
  • Average starting salary – 40 ($28,722)
  • Average weekly wage – 47 ($898)
  • Total job openings – 32 (59,000)
  • Most job hires – 32 (45,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 8 (15,000)
  • Average hours worked – 18 (39.6 hours)
  • Average commute time – 9 (21.7 minutes)

 

48. Louisiana

Louisiana has 1.99 million employees, mostly in the oil, natural gas, commercial fishing industries. Workers are slightly unhappy with their job conditions, have long average commute time, and low average salaries. So, it makes sense how Louisiana scored so low on our list of the best states to find a job.

Louisiana rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 22 (4.8%)
  • Average starting salary – 34 ($29,812)
  • Average weekly wage – 33 ($993)
  • Total job openings – 26 (85,000)
  • Most job hires – 23 (75,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 14 (23,000)
  • Average hours worked – 19 (39.7 hours)
  • Average commute time – 28 (26.3 minutes)

 

 

49. West Virginia

West Virginia has the third-worst job growth by state ranking. People here hate their jobs, despite a reasonable average starting salary. West Virginia has neither many job openings nor new hires.

West Virginia Rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 23 (4.9%)
  • Average starting salary – 18 ($31,078)
  • Average weekly wage – 46 ($904)
  • Total job openings – 36 (39,000)
  • Most job hires – 37 (28,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 5 (11,000)
  • Average hours worked – 14 (39.2 hours)
  • Average commute time – 30 (26.5 minutes)

 

50. Wyoming

This state represents a small job market with a low average weekly wage. Therefore, Wyoming is far away from the states with the most job opportunities.

That said, Wyoming is one of the best destinations for starting a business as it has low corporate taxes by states. In fact, Wyoming has no business tax and only sales and property tax burden companies based here.

Wyoming rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 13 (3.3%)
  • Average starting salary – 9 ($30,346)
  • Average weekly wage – 32 ($1,022)
  • Total job openings – 44 (14,000)
  • Most job hires – 44 (12,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 1 (6,000)
  • Average hours worked – 22 (40.3 hours)
  • Average commute time – 45 (40.3 minutes)

 

51. Mississippi

Mississippi ended at the bottom of our list of states with the best job growth. There are 1.20 million employed in this state, and the levels of job satisfaction are average. Mississippi has significant unemployment and quite a low average starting salary. 

Mississippi rankings:

  • Unemployment rate – 24 (5.4%)
  • Average starting salary – 43 ($28,241)
  • Average weekly wage – 48 ($818)
  • Total job openings – 34 (49,000)
  • Most job hires – 33 (43,000)
  • Least layoffs and discharges – 6 (12,000)
  • Average hours worked – 16 (39.4 hours)
  • Average commute time – 22 (25 minutes)

 

Summary

We ranked the states with the best job market from best to worst using several different criteria. Some of those factors may not be equally important to all job seekers, which is why we advise you to look carefully at all the figures and make individual conclusions. Finding the balance is possible only if you carefully analyze all the useful data we provided in this ultimate guide.

 

References: BLS, BLS, BLS, Business, Comptroller, Multivu, Ziprecruiter

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