When it comes to being great places to live and work, not all states are created equally. After all, you don’t get to being the “land of opportunity” without creating a little disparity along the way.
Some states have been suffering from issues of poverty and aging work forces for years — others have only recently started running into greater issues due to things like overpopulation, lack of available jobs, or just good old widespread economic inequality.
A while ago we wrote about the best states in America to get a job, but since then we’ve been wondering — if those are the best, then which ones are the worst? And has anything changed since we last wrote about it?
We were curious, so we crunched the numbers — after ranking each state based on certain job-related criteria, we managed to put together a list of the worst states in the nation for jobs.
The full list can be found further down, but first, here’s a quick top ten.
We’ll go into the statistics for each of these states a little further down, but first, here’s how we put this list together.
We believe these criteria are all major contributors to whether jobs in a particular state are good or bad:
The source for all of our criteria data was the website Sperling’s Best Places.
We used studies like this one from Inc.com in order to settle on the 39-hour work week being the most efficient. Given that going under 39-hours can cause you to lose money if you’re paid hourly, and going over that causes you to lose productivity, any number of worked hours over or under 39 has a negative impact on a state’s ranking.
After we found all the data, we ranked each state from 1 to 50 for each individual item, with 1 being the best.
We then took the average rank across all criteria and scored each state, with the state posting the lowest overall score being crowned the “Worst State To Get A Job.”
How does your state fare in the rankings? Read on to the full list to find out.
Unemployment Rate: 5.40%
Recent Job Growth: -1.49%
Cost of Living Index: 90.5
Once one of the largest coal suppliers in the US, Kentucky has had a tough time recovering since the fall of the coal industry and the Great Recession. Although it’s made some gains in recent years, its recent job growth is still -1.49%, and much of the state itself suffers from low levels of education and household income rates, so Kentucky takes the top spot on our list.
Unemployment Rate: 6.50%
Recent Job Growth: 0.04%
Cost of Living Index: 91.2
With a basically stagnant job growth rate of 0.04% and an unemployment rate of 6.50%, Alabama isn’t in a great spot for workers at the moment. It’s on a bit of an upswing thanks to an automobile manufacturing boom, but so far that development has come with downsides of its own.
Unemployment Rate: 6.10%
Recent Job Growth: -0.72%
Cost of Living Index: 93.4
While it isn’t quite plummeting, West Virginia’s job growth isn’t doing great at the moment at its rate of 6.10%. Yet another mountainous rural state with a history of labor disputes, the economy of West Virginia has been long-struggling — hopefully it’s due for some good news in the near future.
Unemployment Rate: 7.00%
Recent Job Growth: 0.32%
Cost of Living Index: 94.8
Louisiana has one of the highest unemployment rates on our list at 7.00%, and with a recent job growth rate of only 0.32%, it’s another in a long line of Southern states on our list that have had a tough time economically for much of the last fifty years.
Unemployment Rate: 3.70%
Recent Job Growth: -1.13%
Cost of Living Index: 110.8
The first of a few outliers on our list, Maine is also the first New England state to show up in our rankings. It’s unemployment rate of 3.70% isn’t too bad, but with a job growth rate of -1.13% and a cost of living 10% higher than the national average, Maine takes spot number 5 on our list.
Unemployment Rate: 7.00%
Recent Job Growth: -0.01%
Cost of Living Index: 96.5
New Mexico’s unemployment rate of 7.00% is tied with Louisiana’s as the worst in our top ten list. Alongside a stagnant job growth rate of -0.01%, New Mexico comes in at number 6 on our list of Worst States for Jobs.
Unemployment Rate: 5.90%
Recent Job Growth: 1.13%
Cost of Living Index: 127.7
The second New England state to show up on our list. Connecticut’s job growth rate of 1.13% isn’t as bad as others on this list, but its high unemployment rate of 5.90% and its cost of living being 27.7% higher than the national average puts it in our top ten.
Unemployment Rate: 5.60%
Recent Job Growth: 1.68%
Cost of Living Index: 91.4
There’s no one factor that puts Georgia in the 8th spot on our top ten list — its unemployment rate of 5.60%, while not great, isn’t the worst on the list, and its recent job growth rate of 1.68% is higher than most on here. But none of Georgia’s statistics look particularly good at the moment, and the combination of all of them gets Georgia into the tail end of our top ten list.
Unemployment Rate: 5.70%
Recent Job Growth: 2.18%
Cost of Living Index: 135.9
It might be a little unexpected to see the Golden State rank so highly on our list, given the reputation of California as a land of rich opportunities and especially Silicon Valley’s presence in the state. But its unemployment rate of 5.70% is still fairly high, and it has the second highest cost of living in the nation (behind only Hawaii).
Unemployment Rate: 6.80%
Recent Job Growth: -0.17%
Cost of Living Index: 131.1
Alaska is well-known to be one of the most wide-open and beautiful states in the nation, but all that isolation and natural beauty comes at a price. It’s unemployment rate is at 6.80%, job growth is at an abysmal -0.17%, and all that combined with its high cost of living rate makes Alaska one of the worst states in the nation for jobs.
Below you’ll find our extended table with all of the data we found, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.
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