17 States Struggling the Most to Hire Workers

Some states are still challenged with a workforce that can’t cover the number of job openings available.
Updated April 11, 2024
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The unemployment rate continues to remain low in the U.S., and there are more than 10 million job openings in the country.

Some states are struggling more than others to find workers to fill jobs, which may benefit workers looking for a good way to make extra money. Less competition and more demand could mean higher wages and benefits for those who have the right qualifications.

If you’re looking for a job or a reason to get a bump in salary and benefits, here are the 17 states that are struggling the most to hire workers, according to WalletHub.

17. Wyoming

Kevin Carden/Adobe Grand Tetons and reflection

The least populated state in the U.S. may struggle to find workers because there aren’t enough people to fill the number of open positions. 

The state’s job openings rate, which measures the number of openings compared to total employment, was at 6.6% for August and 8.08% for the past 12 months.

16. Nebraska

Like/Adobe sunset over Scotts Bluff National Monument

A recent report by the Nebraska Department of Labor found that more than 41% of businesses said they’ve had hiring difficulties. 

That may be reflected in the fact that the state’s job openings rate was 7.1% in August and 6.91% in the past year.

15. North Carolina

Craig Zerbe/Adobe autumn view of lake powhatan

North Carolina has seen a boom in recent months with more businesses opening in the state. But those new companies need to fill jobs, which may be hindered by a lack of workers trying to find a job. 

The state had a 7% job openings rate in August and a 7.43% job openings rate in the past 12 months.

14. Maine

haveseen/Adobe fishing boats docked in Perkins Cove coast of Maine

Maine saw a 7.1% job openings rate in August and a 7.22% openings rate for the past year. One of the concerns that Maine businesses have been worried about is the increase in older residents retiring without a younger labor force to replace them.

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13. Maryland

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe downtown Annapolis Marlyand

Like Maine, Maryland saw a 7.1% job openings rate in August and had a 7.33% job openings rate for the past year. The state, like others, may be struggling due to an aging workforce and not enough younger people to replace retiring workers.

12. North Dakota

Craig Zerbe/Adobe  male Bison in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park

North Dakota has gained interest in recent years with its oil and gas production, but the state is still struggling with getting enough workers to serve the industry. In August, the state had a 7.2% job openings rate and is at the same rate for the past 12 months.

11. South Carolina

f11photo/Adobe Charleston South Carolina USA

South Carolina is also struggling with an aging labor force and not enough younger workers to fill the gap. The state had a 7% job openings rate for August and a 7.78% rate for the past 12 months.

10. Ohio

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Columbus Ohio USA skyline on the river

Intel has committed to building a major semiconductor factory in Ohio, but that project includes 7,000 construction jobs that the state may have trouble filling. After the factory is built, Intel says it will employ 3,000 workers. 

This may be a challenge in a state that had a 7.4% job openings rate in August and a 6.93% job openings rate for the year.

9. Virginia

Daryl/Adobe fall over Monument Avenue in Richmond Virginia

Virginia has seen an increase in population in recent years, and its proximity to Washington, D.C., may be attractive for some workers. But like other states, it also could be dealing with an older workforce who is retiring without others to replace them. 

The state had a 7.4% job openings rate in August and a 7.23% openings rate for the past 12 months.

8. Massachusetts

Wangkun Jia/Adobe Mayflower docked at town of Plymouth Massachusetts

Changes in the workforce during the pandemic, including COVID-19 worries and a desire for more flexibility, may still be affecting labor in Massachusetts. The state had a 7.4% job openings rate for August and a 7.54% rate for the past year.

7. Louisiana

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe New Orleans Louisiana USA at Jackson Square during twilight

Companies are seeing workers quit in Louisiana to find better jobs with better pay, which could be driving up costs for other businesses to compete. The state had a 7.6% job openings rate in August and a 7.17% rate for the past 12 months.

6. Montana

Aaron/Adobe Moose standing in lake

Montana is among the top 10 least populated states in the country, which could be contributing to its struggles to fill positions. The state’s job openings rate was 7.3% in August and 8.14% for the past 12 months.

5. West Virginia

Kannan/Adobe Harpers Ferry in West Virginia

West Virginia is getting so desperate to draw more workers to the state that it’s offering people $20,000 to relocate. Residents would have to stay a total of two years to collect the cash. 

The state needs to boost its workforce with a 7.7% job openings rate in August and a 7.61% rate for the year.

4. Vermont

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Montpelier Vermont USA town skyline

Vermont is the second least populous state in the country, and its small labor pool could be making it harder for businesses to find the best employees for open positions. The state had a 7.7% job openings rate in August and a 7.69% rate for the past year.

3. Kentucky

Alexey Stiop/Adobe horse farm fences

Kentucky was struggling with a labor shortage even before the pandemic due to things like a lack of child care and a low minimum wage. Kentucky’s $7.25 per hour is one of the lowest in the country. 

The state had a 7.8% job openings rate for August and a 7.95% job openings rate for the past year.

2. Georgia

Chasing Oz/Adobe Chippewa Square at dawn

Georgia was one of only two states with a monthly job openings rate above 8% in August and a yearly jobs openings rate above that level as well. The state reached an 8.2% job openings rate for the month and 8.08% for the past 12 months.

1. Alaska

Mike/Adobe Medenhall Glacier Outlook Juneau Alaska

Alaska topped the list with an 8.3% job openings rate in August and a whopping 9.78% rate for the past 12 months. It’s the only state above the 9% mark. 

In addition to a lack of workforce, the state also has a high cost of living, which may scare potential workers from moving to the state.

Bottom line

deagreez/Adobe woman unpacking her belongings at new office

If you’re willing to move, you may be able to stop living paycheck to paycheck by living in a state that is struggling to hire workers. 

Remember that employers who need more workers may be willing to negotiate a better package, including salary and benefits, to attract workers to join their team.

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Author Details

Jenny Cohen Jenny Cohen is a freelance writer who has covered a bit of everything, from finance to sports to her favorite TV shows. Her work has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and FoxSports.com.

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