Job hunting is never easy. Between searching for employment openings, updating résumés, contacting references and preparing for interviews, it’s hard work. The COVID-19 pandemic has made that process even more difficult than usual, as people laid off during the crisis are now competing with new entrants to the job market. The unemployment rate is 5.8% as of May 2021, close to double the record low seen in 2019.
Finding a job can be even harder when you don’t know where to begin looking for work, which is why narrowing your search area can be important. And because that part requires a bit of research, WalletHub did the homework to help you focus on the most important task: finding your dream position in a place you’ll love.
In order therefore to determine the most attractive states for employment, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 35 key indicators of job-market strength, opportunity and a healthy economy. Our data set ranges from employment growth to median annual income to average commute time.
For a more local breakdown of the job market, check out WalletHub’s ranking of the Best Places to Find a Job.
Best States to Find a Job
|Overall Rank||State||Total Score||Job Market||Economic Environment|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that state, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
The future of U.S. jobs relies on many factors, including policy and innovation. To gauge the possible effects of each and find ways to strengthen the economy, we asked a panel of experts to share their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What types of jobs do you think are most threatened by automation/the rise of robots? What jobs are least threatened?
- What fields are expected to experience the highest rate of job growth in the next 10 years?
- Job growth was notable in May, with major gains in leisure and hospitality, public and private education, and transportation. Is this a sign that local economies are on the path to recovery from COVID-19 and thus, the labor market as well?
- How can local policymakers help diversify and strengthen local economies?
- Are there any models for re-training displaced workers that have proven successful?
Ask the Experts
In order to determine the best states for jobs, WalletHub compared the 50 states across two key dimensions, Job Market and Economic Environment. We assigned a heavier weight to the former, considering the factors in that category most heavily influence a job seeker’s decision in terms of relocation for employment.
We evaluated the two dimensions using 35 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for job seekers.
We then determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores rank-order our sample.
Job Market – Total Points: 60
- Job Opportunities: Double Weight (~3.87 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Number of Job Openings per Total Population in Labor Force – Unemployment Rate.
- Employment Growth: Triple Weight (~5.81 Points)
Note: This metric measures the rate of annual job growth (adjusted by the working-age population growth).
- Unemployment Rate: Double Weight (~3.87 Points)
- Long-term Unemployment Rate: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures percentage of the unemployed who had been jobless for 27 weeks or longer.
- Underemployment Rate: Double Weight (~3.87 Points)
- Industry Variety: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
- Employment Outlook: Triple Weight (~5.81 Points)
Note: This metric is based on the Gallup's Job Creation Index.
- Automation Risk: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of jobs at risk for automation.
- Job Security: Triple Weight (~5.81 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: (Number of Employees in 2020 – Number of Employees in 2019) / Number of Employees in 2019.
- Job Satisfaction: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
- Share of Engaged Workers: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric is based on Gallup’s “State of the American Workplace” report. Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.
- Employer-Based Retirement Access & Participation: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
- Employee Benefits: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of employees with private health insurance.
- Presence of Work-Share Programs: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of state programs that allow employers to temporarily reduce work hours of employees instead of laying them off during economic downturns.
- Presence of State Nondiscrimination Laws & Policies: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of state laws and policies that protect workers against discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender.
- State’s Statute on Hiring Based on Salary History: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of salary history bans in a state.
- Worker Protection Score: : Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: The policies include:
- Protections for women who are pregnant and breastfeeding.
- Mandates for equal pay, pay secrecy.
- Leave for non-FMLA workers because of less time on the job; leave longer than federal FMLA.
- Mandate for paid sick leave.
- Protections around flexible scheduling, reporting pay, split shift pay, advance notice
- Protections around sexual harassment.
- Share of Part-Time Employees: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of part-time employees for every 100 full-time employees. A greater share of full-time employees is ideal.
- Availability of Internships: Double Weight (~3.87 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of internships per total civilian population aged 16 to 24 years in the labor force.
- 4+ Star Job Opportunities per Total People in Labor Force: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of job opportunities at 4+ star rated companies on Glasssdoor.com per the total people in the labor force.
- Disability-Friendliness of Employers: Full Weight (~1.94 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of persons with disabilities who are employed.
Economic Environment – Total Points: 40
- Median Annual Income: Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted by the cost of living.
- Monthly Average Starting Salary: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Share of Workers Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Average Length of Work Week (in Hours): Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Share of Workers with Multiple Jobs: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Average Commute Time (in Minutes): Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Commuter-Friendly Jobs (Number of Jobs Accessible by a 30-Minute Transit Ride): Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Earned Income-Tax Credit: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of state earned income tax credit.
- State Income-Tax Burden for Low-Income Earners (as Share of Income): Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
- State Income-Tax Burden for Middle-Income Earners (as Share of Income): Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
- State Income-Tax Burden for High-Income Earners (as Share of Income): Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
- COVID-19 Positive Tests in the Past Week per Capita: Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
- COVID-19 Death Rate in the Past Week per Capita: Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
- Working Moms & Dads Rankings: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst States for Working Moms” & “Best & Worst States for Working Dads” reports.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Indeed.com, Gallup-Healthways, United Health Foundation, Brandwatch, The Pew Charitable Trusts, National Conference of State Legislatures, Chegg, Council for Community and Economic Research, Tax Credits for Workers and Their Families, ITEP, Movement Advancement Project, The Brookings Institution, Industry Dive, Oxfam America, Glassdoor, The Center for Neighborhood Technology, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and WalletHub research.