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Need a Job? You Should Move to One of These 5 States

Throughout the United States, employment and earnings are on a clear uptrend. On average, 1.6% more people are employed across the country, and the average worker makes 2.1% more than she did a year ago. However, this varies greatly by region, and some places have much hotter job markets than others.

Three states (Arkansas, Alaska, and West Virginia) have less people employed than they did last year. The average wages in the U.S. Virgin Islands dropped by a whopping 13.8% year over year. With this in mind, I'd like to focus on the states with the most improved prospects for job seekers. In ascending order, the top five are...

5. Idaho -- Idaho has 2.7% more people employed than last year, and the average worker makes 1.9% more. The state's job market is improving, with the fastest growth coming in the health care sector.  For instance, there are 81% more medical assistants employed in Idaho than there were 10 years ago.

Social service workers are also in demand in Idaho, with 77% growth over the past decade. Other areas of fast growth include IT systems analysts, and skilled labor jobs such as roofing, marble, and tile workers.

4. Texas -- Texas also has 2.7% more people employed than last year, as well as an above-average wage increase of 2.4%. The fastest growing Texas industries include, oil and gas-related jobs, which also pay some of the highest wages of any industry at over three times the state average. Mining, medical skills, and business management also exhibited very strong growth in recent years, both in terms of the number of jobs created and the salary increases.

3. Utah -- With a 2.8% employment growth rate, Utah is a great place for job seekers, particularly for those in office administration, sales, construction, food service, and education. It's worth noting that Utah's average wage is 15% below the national average, but it's growing faster than most states, and when combined with a low cost of living, Utah becomes an appealing option.

2. Colorado -- Colorado grew its number of jobs by 2.9% over the past year, and the University of Colorado is projecting another 61,300 new jobs to be added in 2014. The highest growth is anticipated in the business services sector, construction, and the transportation and utilities sector. Colorado's cost of living is right at the national average, but the average wage is 1.3% higher, making Colorado a good place for those who want to improve their standard of living.

1. North Dakota -- I was surprised at this, but not only did North Dakota exhibit the highest job growth in the U.S., at 3.2%, but it also has the fastest-growing wages, which improved by 3.7% year over year. North Dakota also has one of the lowest overall costs of living in the U.S., at just 92.5% of the national average.

Most of North Dakota's job growth has been a result of the booming oil industry, which is expected to continue its incredible growth rate. Jobs such as wellhead pumpers, derrick operators, service unit operators, and extraction helpers are all expected to more than double by 2020.

While the U.S. economy is doing very well, there is extreme diversity among rates of job growth in different regions, as well as the industries that are experiencing growth. For example, despite Colorado's excellent job growth rate, the telecommunications sector is expected to decline in the coming year, which is odd because the sector is growing throughout most of the country. Even in a growing economy, geography plays a big role when determining employment prospects, as well as in the quality of life those who land jobs.

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Read/Post Comments (36) | Recommend This Article (44)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 3:07 PM, LoraND wrote:

    Yes there are many jobs in No. Dak there is also a housing shortage, so beware. No problem if you are driving a truck, if it has a sleeper. The man camps, I have heard horror stories about roommates. And guess what, you work in ALL weather, currently it's -22 with a -56 wind chill.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 3:08 PM, pinnaclemt wrote:

    Please pass this information on to Obama and everyone who are on unemployment.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 3:15 PM, gaynorhenry wrote:

    Please don't come here if you are not prepared. It's cold in winter, hot with mosquitos in summer. We work hard, keep our noses clean and are generally a conservative bunch. It's not for everyone and we like it that way. There are tons of jobs, that's true but the salaries are not always enormous, house prices are going up and up, especially in teh oil patch; there it's next to impossible to find an apartment for under $2,000.00 a month. The patch jobs mean LONG hours and living in man camps a lot of the time. As we like to say 40 below keeps teh riff-raff out.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 3:26 PM, RobertLR1 wrote:

    Yes come on out to Utah. Really spectacular scenery and pretty good on living expenses. Salt Lake is a great city and is more vibrant than generally understood. I have done OK here even if there was job discrimination back in the 1970s, it has really opened up even though the establishment is still trying to contain change and uphold the status quo. Las Vegas is only 7 hours away and Colorado(another fabulous state) is right next door.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 3:29 PM, carmeno wrote:

    "I was surprised at this"??? Exactly were has the writer of the article been, sailing and studying the isolated tribes in the Amazon? May I suggest actually reading the news once in a while. Not only has the price of every thing gone up, so has the crime rate. Here's hoping that the wind chills got way down to 70 below so "the riff-raff goes back to where they came from. Bitter cold has some advantages.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 4:02 PM, vet212 wrote:

    I would NEVER move to Colorado the leftist wealthy now control most of that once free state now it is becoming just another "people's republiK" of worthless liberal actors athletes and sundry other undesirable idiots

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 4:33 PM, jhillsbery wrote:

    I can't afford to move. Relocating is expensive to say the least.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 4:49 PM, LBonecrusher wrote:

    Colorado; if you are a drug pusher tired of going to jail.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 4:49 PM, ourfutureissgrim wrote:

    Please don't move to Texas! Everything bad people say about us is true. You don't want to live here. Might I suggest one of the others from the list? They sound nice.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 4:50 PM, sdtuijt7 wrote:

    As usual, all but one of the 5 (Colorado) are red states. Blue states are killing their job markets because they are led by socialist-minded democrats.

    They are stressing the whole country now with their worst egg heads in Washington since 2006.

    People, friends just don't let friends vote democrat, it is bad for you states!

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 5:34 PM, Cooperhut9 wrote:

    Obviously this writer never checked on the "real cost of living" in N. Dakota. In oil country, where the jobs are, people are paying $2000-$4000 a month to rent a space just large enough to put a travel trailer on. 12oz package of "bacon" is $7.99, hamburger over $4/lb., a gallon of milk is $4-$5 & a dozen eggs are over $2.50. Houses rent for about a $1000 a month PER bedroom & new houses START at $300,000! It takes 2 people making at least $20/hr. just to get by. And don't get me started on the it's 27 below with a wind-chill of -60. Yes the wages can be good put they come at a price.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 5:44 PM, MissDisplaced wrote:

    No thanks. I don't like any of those states. All are either too conservative or too damn cold!

    And the only one that isn't (Texas) well... in a state that sees fit to override a woman's DNR order in order to keep her as a baby incubator... NO THANKS!

    I don't think I'll be giving up the rights to my own body for work.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 6:04 PM, Disgustedman wrote:

    Throughout the United States, employment and earnings are on a clear uptrend. On average, 1.6% more people are employed across the country, and the average worker makes 2.1% more than she did a year ago.

    Now then why oh why do the Democrats cry about extending the EUC when everything is so rosy? If it is, then the EUC should end, if not then the economy is STILL ON THE MEND!!!!

    BTW the "Recession" ended in 2009.....

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 7:09 PM, Whosworld wrote:

    Sorry but the increase of employement for the most part time jobs at min wage. That means nothing! People are not all together now a day are they? Thank your local liberal/ and your president obama the communist supported by the liberals.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 7:23 PM, willy1514 wrote:

    Four of the five states have Republican governors and legislatures. Coincidence? I think not. In general, places run by Republicans are better for job growth. Also notice none are in the Northeast, the Deep South, east of the Mississippi or on the West Coast.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 8:16 PM, Bartmuley wrote:

    How could the author not know ND is booming? But the cost of living here, if you are anywhere near where the jobs are, is outrageous.

    We work long hours in all types of weather. Today it was -20 and lord knows what with the windchill. It's not for the faint of heart.

    The money is good but I've been up in ND for about a year and a half and just about had enough of this place. Money isn't everything.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 8:17 PM, newsmedia wrote:

    Colorado also has the attraction of legalized Pot.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 8:22 PM, Dan1959 wrote:

    Liberals who helped screw up liberal states should stay in their "Nirvanas." Conservatives who want to escape ... bring it! Plenty of room in Texas.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 8:29 PM, erini wrote:

    Those who are at a bottom have a space to grow. Texas resembles China in this respect. Where is a number showing an unemployment level???

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 8:34 PM, erini wrote:

    Yes, all fools should move to conservative states. Working conditions and living standard are at a bottom there. They were so low that any growth represents an impressive(?) number in %.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 8:39 PM, ElCapitan1 wrote:

    I have to respectfully disagree about Utah. There's still a lot of job discrimination, very low pay as well as fanatic religious types and tons of corporate crime. We have a high school educated governor that doesn't want to spend a cent to fix the air or the roads. A majority of populace is unwilling to join the rest of the 20th century on equal rights issues and show empathy for nobody except themselves. Our winters are very long and depressing although not as bad as the midwest. Other than that, a very scenic and beautiful state.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 9:00 PM, rbrooks715 wrote:

    a lot of low wage labor or service positions. even in north dakota.

    cost of living is going to be higher than expected.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 9:02 PM, coquipr wrote:

    Um, Idaho.. nope... rather watch paint dry... Like the other comment, these states would not be a choice for me... however, somewhere warm, other than Texas, say Florida would be great!!

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 10:52 PM, morpwr wrote:

    Idaho, what a joke. look at craigslist, all the work you want for 9 dollars an hour. Framers, 9, welders that are certified lucky to get 15 an hour. Medium home price like, 200k can you buy that at 9 dollars an hour, good luck.

  • Report this Comment On January 05, 2014, at 11:03 PM, marwest wrote:

    Not sure where Disgusted Man lives, but the recession is still live and well in many places.

    Or your job no longer exists because of all the mobile this, UI that, Amazon blah blah blah. Pretty soon all those malls will be empty shells,littering the landscape. They already are...that does not say ,jobs,jobs and more jobs.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 2:22 AM, Kevdog777 wrote:

    A capitalist site only naming mostly red states "surprise surprise". Take away oil speculation causing exorbitant oil prices and these red states job growth comes to a screaming halt. Check out the most impoverished states my conservative friends. Mostly all southern states. Per capita income is highest in blue states. As a long haul truck driver I've seen more extreme poverty in red states to be honest.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 3:47 AM, gracef wrote:

    Stay out of ND. We natives are sick of you all coming here. Crime skyrocketed, homeless skyrocketed. Drugs skyrocketed. Accidents skyrocketed with people that don't know how to drive.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 10:33 AM, hacker44240 wrote:

    All Republican States (yes, even Colorado).

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 10:36 AM, sabebrush6 wrote:

    If you're willing to take on personal responsibility and work for a living, there are plenty of jobs out there. It may not be just exactly the one you had in mind, but it sure puts beans on the table.

    I know it's harder that collecting the old welfare check, but hey, sure makes you proud you are paying your own way in life.

    You may have to travel to the new job location, but it's sure worth it.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 12:22 PM, Dalton wrote:

    For the many unemployed former casino workers in Nevada, with your drug habits and lack of marketable skills, here's your chance to leave and plague another state. You're welcome.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 1:38 PM, ARBE123 wrote:

    Here in Houston, homes are selling for twice what they are worth.

    The home next to my parents, appraised at $215,000, was put on the market for $345,000. Within 2 hours, there was 18 bids, the last of which was $745,000. The final selling price, as the home closed yesterday, $919,000.

    Why the high price? People are wanting to live within the Beltway 8 loop, so selling prices are going through the roof.

    There is a real shortage of housing in Houston.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 3:36 PM, paulito wrote:

    I guess the jobs in Colorado are up north in the big cities. Here in the 4 corners area, there aren't many to be had. I work in the summer at Mesa Verde, then get layed off for 3 to 4 months. I'm moving after this summer. Why shouldn't I receive unemployment when I'm not working,like someone else said? I'm 55 yrs.old, been working since I was 8 yrs.old. This is only the second year I've drawn unemployment. People that haven't had to draw it, don't understand. Not everyone can just pack up and move to another city or state to get work. I'm eight going back to Texas, or to Arkansas. Miss the hot weather, ticks, snakes,spiders, and the humidity. Most of all, I really do miss the people there, they are always willing to help their neighbors.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 4:04 PM, SLTom992 wrote:

    Do you notice that California is not among those states even though it is one of the largest states with some of the hottest industries?

    The fact is that because of the extremely left wing policies of California industries are leaving in massive quantities and talking to a Real Estate Agent I'm told that the last 28 homes he's sold over $600,000 belonged to upper middle class workers moving out of the state to avoid the crippling taxes and the Supermaket evening where EVERYONE is speaking Spanish and the checkout clerks are required to speak Spanish or lose their jobs.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 4:32 PM, coldND wrote:

    I'm cold.

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 4:32 PM, coldND wrote:

    Estoy frio!

  • Report this Comment On January 06, 2014, at 5:06 PM, aljno1 wrote:

    The numbers for Idaho, Utah and Colorado--I supsect--are all directly affected by what's happening in North Dakota. I truly beleive that Idaho's largest employer is the North Dakota oil boom. There are thousands of Idaho residents (and many Idaho based companies) currently working in ND and am pretty sure the same goes for Utah and Colorado as you see many license plates from there as well.

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Matthew Frankel

Matt brought his love of teaching and investing to the Fool in order to help people invest better, after several years as a math teacher. Matt specializes in writing about the best opportunities in bank stocks, real estate, and personal finance, but loves any investment at the right price. Follow me on Twitter to keep up with all of the best financial coverage!

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