States With The Most Underemployed Workers

states most unemployed workers

By Jake Thiewes & 24/7 Wall Street

With the upcoming presidential election, more than ever people are focused on the government's unemployment statistics. Last Friday, the Labor Department announced a slight increase in the unemployment rate -- from 8.2 percent to 8.3 percent.

Unemployment, however, does not tell the whole story. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statics, 24/7 Wall Street calculated an "underemployment rate" and noted the places with the most "underemployed." That number includes workers who have given up on the job search, search infrequently, or have part-time jobs that barely pay the bills. These people don't show up in the unemployment stats, but they're suffering all the same.

So then, which states are the most "underemployed?"

10. Arizona
  • Underemployment rate: 16.6 percent.
  • Official unemployment rate: 8.7 percent (17th highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $227.1 billion (20th highest).
  • Income per capita: $35,875 (11th lowest).

The housing bust has taken a toll on Arizona, as 43.4 percent of houses have negative equity in them, the third-highest rate in the country. Housing prices fell a whopping 52.7 percent from the end of 2006 to the end of 2011, the biggest fall for any state in the U.S. except Nevada. More than 20 percent of the residents of the state are on Medicaid, the only state on this list to crack the top 10 in this statistic. However, underemployment is showing signs of improvement. The underemployment average for all of 2011 was 18 percent, where it was the sixth-highest rate in the country.

9. Washington
  • Underemployment rate: 17%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 8.7% (16th highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $310.9 billion (14th highest).
  • Income per capita: $44,294 (13th highest).

Washington's unemployment rate is solidly above the June national unemployment rate of 8.2 percent, and, in addition, the state has plenty of people who have become discouraged, are marginally attached or are involuntarily working part-time. In fact, barely half of all underemployed people are counted as part of the official unemployment rate, the lowest rate among all the states on this list. The underemployment rate has been improving however, as the rate was 17.8 percent in 2011 as a whole, and 17.6 percent in the average between the second quarters of 2011 and 2012. Per capita income of $44,294 is the second-highest of the states on this list.

8. Florida
  • Underemployment rate: 17%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 9.2% (11th highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $661.1 billion (fourth highest).
  • Income per capita: $39,563 (24th lowest).

Like many of the states on this list, a bruised housing market led to the loss of jobs in the housing industry, leaving many Floridians in less than desirable employment positions. With housing prices cut nearly in half between the end of 2006 and the end of 2011, 45.1 percent of homes are underwater. GDP growth between 2010 and 2011 rose only 0.5 percent, the lowest rate on this list. The labor force out of work at least 15 weeks is 6.2 percent, tied for fourth highest of all states. The state has the highest percentage of people who are over 65, an age group that generally takes longer to find a new job following unemployment.

More: 9 Well-Paying Jobs That Don't Require A Degree

7. South Carolina
  • Underemployment rate: 17%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 10% (fourth highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $143.3 billion (24th lowest).
  • Income per capita: $33,673 (fifth lowest).

The difference between the official unemployment rate and the underemployment rate, 7 percentage points, is the lowest difference of any state on this list. This means that the underemployed tend to be officially unemployed compared to other states. Fortunately, South Carolina's housing market did not crash as hard as other states. Only 19 percent of homes are underwater, a far better percentage than places such as Nevada, Florida and Arizona. The 8.5 percent drop in housing prices between 2006 and 2011 was the lowest on the list. Yet with consumer spending the biggest factor in determining the strength of the economy, South Carolina's income per capita of $33,673, the lowest on this list, may make it more difficult than other states to emerge from its economic struggles.

6. Oregon
  • Underemployment rate: 17.4%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 9.1% (12th highest).
  • Gross domestic product : $186.2 billion (25th highest).
  • Income per capita: $37,909 (19th lowest).

While the unemployment rate fell slightly from the recorded rate of 9.2 percent, the underemployment rate has actually rose from 17.2 percent in the previous quarter. Oregon is the only state on this list to see an uptick in underemployment. Despite its high underemployment rate, Oregon's economy did improve by some measures in 2011. Its 2011 gross domestic product rose by 4.7 percent, more than any state on this list and the second highest of all states measured. Also, the rate of people unemployed for 15 or more weeks is 4.7 percent, the lowest rate on this list.

5. Michigan
  • Underemployment rate: 17.4%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 9.4% (ninth highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $337.4 billion (13th highest).
  • Income per capita: $36,533 (14th lowest).

When the U.S. automobile industry was on the brink of collapse several years ago, Michigan's economy went into a downward spiral. Until June 2010, Michigan had the highest unemployment in the country, reaching 15.2 percent in the summer of 2009. While the situation has greatly improved since hitting rock bottom three years ago, the unemployment rate is still 1.2 percentage points above the national average. However, the underemployment situation has also shown improvement recently. Last quarter, 18.1 percent of people were considered underemployed, which was the fourth highest at the time. The drop of 0.7 percentage points is the biggest drop in underemployment of any state on this list.

More: 7 Great Careers If You're Over 40

4. North Carolina
  • Underemployment rate: 17.5%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 9.8% (fifth highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $385.1 billion (ninth highest).
  • Income per capita: $36,164 (13th lowest).

North Carolina's income per capita between 2010 and 2011 has grown at a rate of 3.31 percent, the lowest of any state on this list and the third lowest overall. Like its southern companion, North Carolina's housing market has not been as battered as other states on this list. Housing prices between the end of 2006 and 2011 tumbled only 9.6 percent, lower than any state on this list other than South Carolina. Meanwhile, only 14.7 percent of mortgages are underwater in the state, less than any other state on this list. The poverty rate for North Carolina is 17.5 percent, the highest on the list except for its southern neighbor.

3. Rhode Island
  • Underemployment rate: 18.9%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 11.2% (second highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $43.7 billion (sixth lowest).
  • Income per capita: $43,992 (16th highest).

Unlike neighboring states Massachusetts and Connecticut, which have underemployment rates of 13.5 percent and 14.5 percent, respectively, Rhode Island has an underemployment rate of 18.9 percent. The state's heavy reliance on tourism is often considered a factor. The state has the second-highest percentage of people in the labor force who have been out of a job for more than 15 weeks, at 7 percent. Rhode Island is the only state where the underemployment rate for the end 2011, at 18.6 percent, was actually lower than the current moving average.

2. California
  • Underemployment rate: 20.3%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 11.2% (third highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $1,735.4 billion (highest).
  • Income per capita: $44,481 (12th highest).

California is one of only two states where more than a fifth of the labor force is underemployed. The state has the highest difference between the U6 and U5 percentage rates, indicating there are a higher percentage of people involuntarily working part-time than in any other state in the U.S. California has the sixth-highest percentage of homes underwater for all states, at 30.5 percent, and the 46.7 percent change in home prices between the end of 2006 and 2011 is the fourth-largest drop. Higher incomes could help boost consumer spending in the future, perhaps helping to bring down the underemployment rate. Income per capita for the state is $44,481, the highest of all of the states on this list.

1. Nevada
  • Underemployment rate: 22.1%.
  • Official unemployment rate: 12.3% (highest).
  • Gross domestic product: $112.5 billion (19th lowest).
  • Income per capita: $38,173 (21st lowest).

Nevada's highest-in-the-country unemployment rate does not provide an accurate portrayal of the job situation, as the underemployment rate is almost 10 percentage points higher than the official rate. The housing market has pummeled Nevada's economy. Between the end of 2006 and end of 2011, housing values tumbled 59.9 percent, the sharpest decline of all 50 states. Now a whopping 61.2 percent of houses are underwater, the highest in the U.S. by more than 16 percentage points. As housing prices tanked, underemployment grew. The rate of job losers and people who have completed temporary jobs is 7.7 percent, higher than any state measured. Even as underemployment is falling, incomes are not rising particularly fast. Income per capita rose only 3.34 percent from 2010 to 2011, the second-lowest rate on this list, after North Carolina, and the fourth lowest overall.

Why Underemployment Limits Career Potential

Don't Miss: Companies Hiring Now

More From 24/7 Wall Street

Looking for a job? Click here to get started.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum


Filter by:

people big government means , more people in the poor house. and no freedom to see in time is coming near you.god bliss.

March 11 2013 at 5:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

We have just reached a new historic record. Half of us now receive direct "free" government benefits. That guarantees that half the voes in the country will be cast for ever bigger government and ever more benefits. They have no other choice as their votes have been bought and paid for. That is Chicago politics applied to the country. They are buying our elections. This is called progress by liberals and "progressives".

August 08 2012 at 2:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People there is an easy solution,
1, distribute funds from the top states who have been fiscally responsible,
2, print more money and throw it into the economy "cash for clunkers" "Mortgage debacle" comes to mind,
3, give more to "illegal immigrants" and there causes, (Gotta bet the Legal immigrants love that)
Forget it I live in the #2 State just above Nevada in the standings, Guess I just have to put up with it!!!

August 08 2012 at 11:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Look the election will be decided by the 40% of the country that identify themselves as independents. Do you know what we want - cooperation. The Tea Party/GOP have wanted this President to fail since day one. They have said so. To me this is the height of being unpatriotic. With the President inheriting two wars and a huge financial mess what have you compromised on? I hate to break it to you but he won the election. The minority does not dictate to the majority. Your retort is that the right controls the House. So what! The Dems control the Senate. The public gives the entire congressl a 15% approval rating which is far lower than the president. To the left, you're not happy with the President's progress because he's not liberal enough. I, and about 50 million other American's want cooperation. We will give you both the credit if you do. To keep this merry-go-round going is not only unpatriotic, but insanity. If the President wins re-election, GOP you must compromise and support him! If he does not, support Mitt. But finger-pointing and stalemate are no longer viable options. You are driving us all off the cliff. Grow the hell up. Signed, an independent.

August 08 2012 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Go Nevada. Say thanks to Harry Reid.

August 08 2012 at 9:08 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

It's Obamas' Fault, Fox and Piven strategy, overwhelm the system.

August 08 2012 at 6:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

4 more years of Obama and we will all be in poverty and under socialist regime. I'm not saying any candidate will do any better but it can't get a whole lot worse! I'd rather vote for another candidate who MIGHT me a mistake as appossed to voting for one who has already PROVEN he is a mistake. It's the difference between a shot in the dark and a shot in the head.

August 08 2012 at 3:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The republicans could help put the US back to work......everyone even went along with some of the rightwingers plans, only to have those evil trolls back out at the last second. Nothing added to their demands.....they are just evil and one day will pay for their selfish ways.....90% of America is now tired of the right....and tick...tock evil rightwingers....tick...tock. lol

August 08 2012 at 12:34 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to rudimario's comment

I'm sick of the left

August 08 2012 at 3:46 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I think you should sit in the direction of the current White House. The character inside? This is HIS watch and HIS responsibility, none other.

August 08 2012 at 3:47 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Gotta love the sign, Ï can't afford to get sick"! So tell us how your going to afford Nazicarre now that the Gov has the authority to MANDATE you buy it regardless?

August 07 2012 at 9:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to n2zyk's comment

Ditto. Wonder where he'll get the money to pay the hefty fine for not having insurance.

August 08 2012 at 3:48 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

i find it very interesting that the south used to be solid democratic and now they have swung to the republican party. i think it is because the democratic party has been completely over taken by the liberal left and have no common sense left.

August 07 2012 at 6:37 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kitharris1's comment

I think the person above is correct and below and that the democrats vote most along party lines not the republicans. I am a minority and when I think about OHIO perhaps it is going to be the minorities not the Whites in Ohio that will change parties for their children and for better housing and teachers that teach about the true great thinkers of all races and religions. My wife is white and Democratic and will always vote straight democratic. Our children all mixed have something to teach us because they will never vote for a person because of his religion or because he is a preacher. Perhaps they understand better than us how easy we can be put into chains by our own so called race. My one son says there are only humans some honest some liars. He does believes a marriage is between a man and a women and still has friends that our gay. He also seems to understand the minorities have been sold out by all kinds including their own. Highest unemployment, highest housing foreclosures and Obama Care will not touch them unless they become successful and pay even more than their friends. Be true to your future and let’s come together as one nation under a higher power as history tells. Let the White Ohio Workers vote for the black man because he is black vote for the man or women that is the best person that will help all humans as my son calls us.

August 07 2012 at 8:13 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Search Articles

Picks From the Web