With the unemployment rate at 3.9% and labor force participation at the highest level since the onset of the pandemic, the personal finance website WalletHub released its report on 2023’s Best & Worst States for Jobs.
To ease the process of finding employment for job seekers, WalletHub compared the 50 states across 34 key indicators of job-market strength and economic vitality. The data set ranges from employment growth to the median annual income to the average commute time.
The U.S. job market remains strong overall, with the highest labor participation rate since before the pandemic and an unemployment rate of just 3.9%. Some states offer better employment opportunities than others, though. Washington is the best state for jobs this year, according to a new report by the personal finance website WalletHub, followed by Virginia, Utah, Vermont, and Florida. WalletHub’s report analyzed 34 key indicators across two dimensions: the job market and the economic environment. A wide variety of metrics affect the states’ rankings, ranging from job opportunities and employee benefits to the monthly average starting salary and the share of workers living in poverty.
“Washington is the best state for jobs in 2023, in large part because it’s one of the few states that doesn’t charge its workers income tax, on top of offering high wages and good employment protections,” said Cassandra Happe, WalletHub analyst. “From busy tech hubs like Seattle to its more rural areas, Washington is packed with potential for job-seekers. The Evergreen State has less than 4.2% of employed residents living below the poverty line, the fifth lowest percentage in the nation, plus one of the highest average monthly starting salaries, at $4,332. Workers can also feel confident with robust protections for things like paid sick leave, equal pay regardless of gender, measures against sexual harassment, and more.”
10 Best and Worst States for Jobs
|Best States for Jobs
|Worst States for Jobs
|7. South Dakota
|10. Rhode Island
|50. West Virginia
Each of the best states for jobs has its unique strengths. For example, Virginia comes in second place for job seekers, providing high salaries and quality work environments. “The median household income in Virginia is $78,726, and the state has a high number of job opportunities at 4-star+ companies. If you live in Virginia, you can also stress less about losing your job, as the state has the second-highest job security rate in the country,” Happe said. “Utah, the third-best state for jobs, may appeal to people tired of the 40-hour work week, as Utahans only work an average of 37.1 hours, the shortest work week in the nation. Plus, Utah has a lower unemployment rate than either of the top two states, at 2.7%, and it boasts a competitive median household income, at $76,685.”
Note: Household income and monthly salary figures are adjusted for the cost of living index.
“The past few years have been volatile for job seekers, going from massive unemployment to worker shortages,” Happe said. “Living in one of the best states for jobs can help you not just secure a career, but also improve your chances of getting competitive wages, good benefits, and high job security.”
Finding a job can be stressful, but there are some actions you can take to make the process easier.
Tips for Finding a Job
- Look for jobs in the best states: One of the biggest reasons people move in general is to be closer to their employer, so if you’re flexible about where you live, you’ll have a better shot at the best careers. Some states provide better quality employment opportunities than others.
- Consider online jobs: Following the pandemic, many jobs have started offering work-from-home positions. If you find a good job that offers this, you can work in a different state without having to uproot your life. Alternatively, you can move to a state with a low cost of living and/or low taxes and work for a company based elsewhere.
- Network: The expression often goes that it’s not what you know but who you know. Having contacts who can let you know when jobs open up at their company and put in a good word with their employer improves your chances of getting hired. Plus, the more people you know in your industry, the more knowledge and advice you have access to. You can start networking on sites like LinkedIn.
- Use your college’s resources: If you’re a college graduate, many schools have job portals or networking tools that alumni can take advantage of to find a job more easily.
- Use your leverage: Since many employers are still experiencing worker shortages, this is a good opportunity for you to push for a better salary and better benefits when negotiating at the hiring stage.
- Don’t limit your options: While you may have experience in a specific field, you may find it surprising how many of your skills and knowledge can also be applied in adjacent fields. Showing adaptability and versatility with “soft skills” like clear communication, creativity, and tech skills can help you land a job that you might not have thought you’d be suited for otherwise. Plus, branching out makes you a more attractive candidate for future opportunities.