These Are The 10 Worst States for Jobs In America

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Best Places For Jobs, Rankings - 1 year ago
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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.

  1. Kentucky
  2. Alabama
  3. West Virginia
  4. Louisiana
  5. Maine
  6. New Mexico
  7. Connecticut
  8. Georgia
  9. California
  10. Alaska

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.

How We Did It

We believe these criteria are all major contributors to whether jobs in a particular state are good or bad:

  • Unemployment rate
  • Recent job growth
  • Future job growth
  • State income tax
  • Median household income adjusted for the cost of living
  • Closest average worked hours to 39
  • 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.

    1. Kentucky

    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.

    2. Alabama

    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.

    3. West Virginia

    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.

    4. Louisiana

    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.

    5. Maine

    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.

    6. New Mexico

    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.

    7. Connecticut

    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.

    8. Georgia

    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.

    9. California

    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).

    10. Alaska

    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.

    Wrapping Up

    Below you’ll find our extended table with all of the data we found, but there’s more to see here at Zippia.

    Are you recently on the job hunt? Find out how to answer the interview question “Why are you looking for a new job?”.

    Or are you looking for more articles like this one? Check out which accounting companies are the best to work for in Birmingham, AL.

    Rank State Median Income Hours Worked Unemployment Rate Recent Job Growth Future Job Growth Cost Of Living Index Adjusted Income
    1 Kentucky $43,342 43 5.40% -1.49% 31.62% 90 $47,891.71
    2 Alabama $43,511 42 6.50% 0.04% 33.59% 91 $47,709.43
    3 West Virginia $41,576 39 6.10% -0.72% 32.45% 93 $44,513.92
    4 Louisiana $44,991 41 7.00% 0.32% 33.64% 94 $47,458.86
    5 Maine $48,804 41 3.70% -1.13% 34.03% 110 $44,046.93
    6 New Mexico $44,968 38 7.00% -0.01% 32.99% 96 $46,598.96
    7 Connecticut $69,899 42 5.90% 1.13% 36.36% 127 $54,736.88
    8 Georgia $49,342 43 5.60% 1.68% 37.76% 91 $53,984.68
    9 California $61,489 41 5.70% 2.18% 38.67% 135 $45,245.77
    10 Alaska $71,829 36 6.80% -0.17% 32.86% 131 $54,789.47
    11 South Carolina $45,033 42 5.60% 2.33% 39.06% 99 $45,396.17
    12 Ohio $48,849 42 4.90% 0.94% 36.97% 93 $52,077.83
    13 Vermont $54,447 39 3.40% -0.66% 35.27% 121 $44,960.36
    14 Illinois $57,166 42 6.00% 1.20% 36.39% 94 $60,429.18
    14 Mississippi $39,464 42 6.80% 3.02% 39.23% 85 $45,941.79
    16 Nebraska $52,400 42 3.30% 0.19% 37.08% 91 $57,205.24
    16 Tennessee $44,621 43 5.00% 1.34% 37.69% 89 $49,911.63
    18 Iowa $52,716 41 4.00% 0.77% 37.55% 91 $57,929.67
    19 Oregon $50,521 40 5.30% 2.75% 40.21% 115 $43,703.29
    20 Massachusetts $67,846 41 4.30% 1.16% 38.02% 133 $50,859.07
    21 North Carolina $46,693 42 5.20% 2.26% 39.31% 93 $49,726.30
    21 Pennsylvania $53,115 41 5.50% 1.30% 37.10% 101 $52,381.66
    23 Wisconsin $52,738 41 4.40% 1.16% 37.92% 96 $54,481.40
    24 Kansas $51,872 41 4.40% 0.70% 36.99% 89 $57,699.67
    24 Texas $52,576 43 4.80% 1.10% 37.40% 90 $57,966.92
    26 Wyoming $58,252 38 5.60% -0.32% 33.76% 91 $63,455.34
    27 Michigan $49,087 42 4.90% 1.92% 38.95% 89 $55,153.93
    27 Virginia $64,792 41 4.00% 0.39% 36.77% 100 $64,277.78
    29 New York $58,687 40 4.50% 1.97% 39.43% 131 $44,799.24
    30 Nevada $52,205 41 6.80% 2.98% 39.17% 103 $50,537.27
    31 Rhode Island $56,423 39 5.10% 1.60% 38.10% 120 $46,746.48
    32 Florida $47,212 40 4.90% 1.71% 38.52% 98 $48,028.48
    32 Hawaii $68,201 39 3.90% 2.16% 40.42% 167 $40,620.01
    32 Montana $46,766 38 4.20% 1.88% 39.56% 100 $46,394.84
    35 Missouri $47,764 42 4.90% 3.29% 41.68% 90 $52,836.28
    36 Washington $60,294 41 5.60% 1.98% 38.37% 105 $57,313.69
    37 Minnesota $60,828 40 4.00% 1.41% 38.82% 100 $60,345.24
    38 South Dakota $50,338 42 2.80% 1.13% 39.45% 103 $48,541.95
    39 Arizona $49,928 40 6.20% 2.53% 38.87% 98 $50,946.94
    40 New Jersey $72,062 40 4.90% 1.88% 38.86% 121 $59,115.67
    40 North Dakota $55,579 39 3.40% -0.27% 36.06% 99 $55,914.49
    42 Oklahoma $46,235 40 5.30% 2.72% 40.14% 89 $51,832.96
    43 Arkansas $41,264 40 4.20% 2.96% 41.72% 87 $47,375.43
    44 Maryland $74,149 40 4.50% 1.41% 38.32% 125 $59,082.87
    45 New Hampshire $65,986 41 2.70% 0.96% 39.23% 117 $56,398.29
    46 Indiana $48,737 41 4.60% 2.41% 40.22% 89 $54,454.75
    47 Colorado $59,448 40 4.00% 1.65% 39.29% 103 $57,271.68
    48 Idaho $47,334 40 3.60% 2.81% 42.02% 92 $51,394.14
    49 Delaware $60,231 40 4.70% 3.94% 43.19% 101 $59,399.41
    50 Utah $59,846 39 4.20% 2.58% 40.95% 93 $64,350.54