The U.S. unemployment rate is currently 4.4%, nearly its lowest point in a decade. While the unemployment rate reflects the millions of Americans who are out of work and actively seeking employment, the measure does not fully capture the degree to which Americans are unable to find the jobs they want.
In addition to those seven million Americans captured by the traditional unemployment rate, there are millions more who are working part-time jobs because they could not find full-time employment, as well a large share of workers who have recently given up on their job search altogether and are now marginally attached to the workforce.
> Underemployment rate: 10.9%
> June unemployment rate: 5.1% (tied — 4th highest)
> Average wage: $48,530 (22nd highest)
> Labor force growth: 2.3% (5th largest increase)
While heavy inbound migration to Arizona has helped spur economic activity and job growth in recent years, labor underutilization in the state remains among the worst in the country. Between 2011 and 2016, the number of employed workers in the state rose by an average of 2.4% a year, far more than the 1.9% national rate.
Employment rose by 3.1% in 2016, the fourth most of any state. Still, Arizona’s underemployment rate fell from 11.7% one year ago to 10.9% today, a relatively small improvement for a state with such rapid job growth. While unemployment in the state fell, the share of the labor force who recently gave up on their job search remained at 1.3%, among the largest share of any state.
The underemployment rate — a combination of unemployed job seekers, discouraged and other marginally attached workers, and people settling for part-time jobs as a share of the labor force — is a more comprehensive measure of labor underutilization, and this measure varies considerably across the country.
To determine the easiest and hardest states to find full-time work, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed underemployment rates in all 50 states with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The underemployment rate ranges from below 7% in some states to over 11% in others.