The 12 Worst States to Find a Good Job Right Now

Even with a labor shortage, some people in these states might struggle to find good work.
Updated April 11, 2024
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Although there's a labor shortage across America, some job seekers still experience difficulty landing a good position.

WalletHub recently compared all 50 states using several key indicators to determine scores for each state’s economic environment and job market.

The following are the 12 worst states to find a job right now. If you're trying to stop living paycheck to paycheck, you may face some challenges in these places.

12. Montana

kanonsky/Adobe sunset at St. Mary Lake in Glacier national park

Montana’s economic environment ranks at No. 39 out of the 50 states. Median annual income was the largest indicator used in determining economic environment scores.

Mining is a leading industry in Montana, with workers in this industry earning the highest average yearly wages in the state.

11. Georgia

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Atlanta Georgia USA

Georgia’s job market ranks No. 26, but it finishes near the bottom (No. 43) for its economic environment.

Drug, cosmetic, and toiletry wholesaling are top industries in Georgia. The state also is the number one producer of pecans in the world.

10. Ohio

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Columbus Ohio USA skyline on the river

Ohio saw slow job growth between August 2021 and August 2022 compared to the national average.

The state ranks below average for its job market and economic environment factors, finishing in the upper 30s for both categories.

Manufacturing and real estate are leading industries in Ohio.

9. Alabama

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Huntsville Alabama USA skyline

Alabama ranks way down at No. 47 for its economic environment. The state fares better (No. 30) for its job market.

A few years ago, Toyota and Mazda joined forces to put a manufacturing plant in Huntsville.

8. South Carolina

f11photo/Adobe charleston south carolina usa

South Carolina’s job market ranks down at No. 42 on the WalletHub list.

Agriculture is a mainstay among all industries in the state. Boeing also has an assembly and delivery facility in South Carolina.

7. Pennsylvania

andreykr/Adobe Philadelphia skyline at night

Pennsylvania ranks among the five states with the highest unemployment rates, according to WalletHub. It also ranks in the top five worst states for overall economic environment, finishing at No. 46 in the nation.

Broadcasting and telecommunications are major industries in Pennsylvania.

6. Oklahoma

Kovcs/Adobe Oklahoma City

Oklahoma ranks No. 48 for its job market. It fares better for its economic environment, which ranks at No. 34.

The state is home to the world’s largest maintenance, repair, and overhaul facility for the U.S. Department of Defense.

5. Arkansas

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe little rock skyline in arkansas

Arkansas ranks No. 45 for the worst economic environment and No. 40 for the worst job market. Its average starting salary ranks No. 48.

Major industries in Arkansas include aerospace and defense, as well as paper and timber products.

4. Louisiana

Kevin Ruck/Adobe USA Downtown Skyline aerial

Louisiana has the fewest job opportunities of all 50 states and is No. 49 in the job market category, according to WalletHub. The state ranks in the bottom five for median annual income.

Oil, natural gas, and fishing are all big industries in the state.

3. Mississippi

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Jackson Mississippi skyline

Mississippi ranks No. 47 for job opportunities and No. 48 for its overall economic environment.

Agriculture, fishing, and forestry are all major industries in the state. A huge percentage of the nation's farm-raised catfish comes from Mississippi.

2. Kentucky

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe Louisville Kentucky USA

Kentucky ranks as the worst state for overall economic environment. It also finishes low (No. 41) for its job market.

Manufacturing — including automotive and aerospace — and service industries are big in Kentucky.

1. West Virginia

jonbilous/Adobe Harpers Ferry West Virginia

West Virginia ranks as having the worst job market and the second-worst economic environment. It also has the lowest median annual income of all states.

Mining and health care are both major industries in West Virginia.

Bottom line

grki/Adobe woman in job interview

It’s not easy to find a job in some states. And with the possibility of a recession now growing, things may become even more challenging in 2023.

If you live in one of these states, moving to a new home might improve your job prospects. You could also stay where you are and pursue training in an industry that's strong in your state.

Finally, you could consider taking an extra job, starting a side hustle, or finding another way to generate extra income as you wait for your state’s job market to improve.

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Author Details

Katelyn Washington Katelyn Washington is a writer with a passion for finance and business. She put herself through business school as a single mother of three and has had pieces commissioned by national magazines. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and editing manuscripts for indie authors.

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