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Need a Job? Don't Move to Any of These 5 Places

It's not a big secret that the employment situation in the U.S. has gotten considerably better since the end of the recession.

In fact, the national unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 10% in October 2009 to 6.7%. However, there are some areas of the country that are falling behind when it comes to job creation and growing wages for workers. Here are five states (or territories) that are not the greatest to be in if you're looking for a job right now.

1. Arkansas -- Despite the fact that the average wage has improved by 2.4% over the past year, the number of jobs in Arkansas has actually fallen by 0.6% over the past year at a time when most of the country is successfully creating jobs. This is somewhat surprising when you consider some of the companies based in the state, such as Wal-Mart, the biggest private employer in the world. Arkansas also has the second lowest median household income in the country, at $39,806.

2. New Mexico -- Even though New Mexico actually posted a slight year-over-year increase of 0.4% in the number of jobs in the state, it was the only one of the 50 states that saw its average wage drop over the past year. The state is seeing a contraction in the number of manufacturing jobs, as well as in the usually high-demand education and health care industries, meaning workers could be willing to accept lower wages in order to keep their jobs.

3. U.S. Virgin Islands -- Not a very populated part of the United States, this past year has been particularly rough on the Virgin Islands, which not only saw its job market contract by 3%, but saw the average wage for workers drop by an alarming 13.8%. The economy of the Virgin Islands consists of mainly tourism, with a sizable manufacturing presence in the form of rum distilling. However, the islands' once thriving construction industry is contracting and leaving many residents without work. The current unemployment rate in the Virgin Islands is higher than in any of the 50 states, at 11.2%.

4. Puerto Rico -- Puerto Rico lost 1.1% of its jobs over the past year. Even though the territory's average wage increased by 1%, it still pays the lowest average weekly wage (by far) in the U.S., at just $503. Puerto Rico also has a cost of living that is higher than in much of the 50 states, mainly because of high housing costs. The dismal job market has caused many Puerto Ricans to leave for the mainland, with a relatively high rate of 54,000 migrants annually.

Source: Noe Alfaro.

5. West Virginia -- West Virginia's job market contracted just slightly this year, but when combined with its dismal 0.6% wage growth (3rd worst of the 50 states), it's simply not one of the better job markets in the country right now. West Virginia also has the least-educated workforce in the country (which explains the low wages), with just 17.3% of the population possessing a bachelor's degree or higher. 

Although these are the worst job markets in the U.S. on paper, bear in mind that this is not the case among all industries and all parts of these states. For example, in New Mexico, there is still strong job growth in the Albuquerque metropolitan are. West Virginia has a thriving coal industry and is actually the highest interstate electricity exporter in the nation. However, as far as overall job creation and higher wages are concerned, job seekers would be better off somewhere like North Dakota, whose job market grew 3.2% last year, or Oklahoma, where wages are growing 3.5% annually.

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Read/Post Comments (34) | Recommend This Article (34)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 5:13 PM, dogjudge wrote:

    Since when did the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico become states?

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 5:14 PM, Widowmaker6 wrote:

    obama wrote this

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 5:17 PM, Mathman6577 wrote:

    No. 3 and 4 are not states. Conn, NY, and Cal. should be on the list. The only jobs are for connected cronies of the elected officials.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 5:52 PM, squirl033 wrote:

    "the employment situation in the U.S. has gotten considerably better... the national unemployment rate has fallen from a peak of 10% in October 2009 to 6.7%"

    the employment situation is NOT better, it only looks that way because millions of unemployed workers have dropped out of the work force! the actual unemployment rate - the U6 - is STILL over 14%, and any decline in unemployment numbers is mostly due to the fact that millions have exhausted their benefits or been cut off, and are no longer counted as unemployed!

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 5:57 PM, ozzlefinch wrote:

    ..."It's not big secret that the employment situation..."

    Nice way to start a story. You be proofreading before posting?

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 5:59 PM, ozzlefinch wrote:

    Can you elaborate on the statement about W VA education vis a vis the earnings? Or will the statement just dangle in mid air and we are to accept it as a fact?

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 6:00 PM, ozzlefinch wrote:

    Why did North Dakota grow jobs? In what industry?

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 6:09 PM, rlv1 wrote:

    Matthew Frankel must be a pseudonym for Barack Obama! The unemployment rate is down many points because the Labor Dept does NOT count those who have given up looking for work as well as those who are underemployed - and it is thought that number is somewhere between 13 and 16 million!!! Just like the Democrats to spin everything because we all know they are not at fault for not creating jobs when their focus has been on same sex marriage, granting citizenship to illegal immigrants, taking away firearms from the common folk, using federal agencies (NSA, IRS, FBI) to work against the citizens of this country, increasing taxes and spending more of our money, pushing legislation that defies the US constitution and opposing journalists, etc., etc., etc.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 7:11 PM, jhillsbery wrote:

    Führer Obama strikes again!

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 8:04 PM, hagar2935 wrote:

    Number 3 & 4 are NOT states and we better hope they never become states.......

    For some reason the worst state.... HARRY REID's Home, Nevada, got left off the article.

    Who wrote this article? A two year old?

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 8:22 PM, stevenihli wrote:

    to answer the question about ND the jobs where mainly in energy, oil/coal but a lot where also added in the support industries, not to mention construction like crazy.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 8:33 PM, ciecie wrote:

    since when did puerto rico and the u.s. virgin islands become states? the last time i knew they were united states terretories!

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 9:34 PM, dumpsterfire wrote:

    yeah, don't go to detroit either

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 9:46 PM, taberm wrote:

    What news reports is the author of this trash reading?? The economy is in horrible shape,. I'm sorry...I call propaganda on this piece of false reporting!

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 9:49 PM, easy777 wrote:


  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 10:34 PM, smilingdon wrote:

    Put Florida on the list. I know several people with Bachelors degrees that can't even get a job flipping burgers!

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 10:47 PM, drcotlar wrote:

    "West Virginia also has the least-educated workforce in the country"

    The writer of this article must be from West Virginia.

    He doesn't realize that Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are not states. Must have family connections.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 10:52 PM, qwanlee wrote:

    Shadowstats provides an honest look at economic statistics because they are adjusted to what they were before the govt started tampering with things.

    Real unemployment is around 25%. This is what is what during the depression of the 30's.

  • Report this Comment On January 12, 2014, at 11:06 PM, qwanlee wrote:

    I think one of the biggest drivers of job loss in the US is minimum wage mandates.

    Right before the housing crash 2007ish, the govt raised the national min wage. Coincidence or did it just cause employers to scale back on labor costs across the board? I think yes.

    Did US companies make more robots because of this mandate combined with exporting jobs overseas? Again yes, what are companies SUPPOSED to do?

    The US no longer has free markets.We continue to pamper health care by not allowing competition

    to drive prices down.We continue to pamper big energy.Is anyone AWARE that UCLA made a precursor(which is cheaply converted to butanol) to butanol out of CO2 and a BACTERIA. Do you think that would be a cheaper energy source than 3 dollar a gallon gas?

    To remain a superpower the US must address cost of living controls by inducing competition into the monopolies that we continue to pamper.

    How many jobs are lost in the US due to outrageous health care costs?

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 12:26 AM, Jen wrote:

    When has the US Virgin Island and Puerto Rico is a Unincorporated territory of the US. The US only has 50 states

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 12:55 AM, Copyguy61 wrote:

    Hey Mathew.....53 states if we add Guam right? Is that what Obama meant when he said he'd been to all 57 states? Hmmm....I wonder what the other four are.

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 1:59 AM, kosmos wrote:

    Three and four are NOT states...... yet they list these while Michigan and Oregon have the highest unemployment rates in that order. Of all 50 states.

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 9:43 AM, mw3051 wrote:

    this is very common for this website.

    the fool does not have legit writers so they get crack smokers who do not know what a us state is to write their crap.

    you are on a roll fool.

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 9:51 AM, brianevrett wrote:

    whoever wrote this article is a moron. arkansas has no jobs smh northwest arkansas been booming for awhile and its not just min wage jobs mixture of everything else and one best parts of it... hmm no michagain no cali they got worst un employement rate. since when virgin islands and puerto rico became states

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 12:07 PM, txvoltaire wrote:

    Don't come to Texas unless you're looking for a job involving a spatula and a paper hat! Texas miracle? Yeah, right!

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 2:47 PM, JoeRMD77 wrote:

    Puerto Roco and Virgina Islands are states, you dummies!

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 2:49 PM, JoeRMD77 wrote:

    Read the title of this article : Need a Job? Don't Move to Any of These 5 Places


  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 3:23 PM, sschwartz1214 wrote:

    A 5th grader could have done a better job of writing this article and correctly representing facts!

    1) The Unemployment rate (U3 only, not U6) is dropping because many of those laid off have passed the 99 weeks of collecting unemployment insurance and are no longer being counted in the U3.

    2) The labor participation rate reduction of adults is at levels not seen since 1978. This is also driving down the U3 rate.

    3) People haven't given up looking, they just can't find work, so anyone who says that people have just stopped looking don't understand what it is like to be among the long-term unemployed.

    4) No wonder why they call this website "". Its articles are written by fools and we should not suffer any fools, as the saying goes.

    5) This website also carries the water for Obama's incompetence, and his horrible policies which have increased the misery of millions of Americans.

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 3:46 PM, plange01 wrote:

    need a job? next time vote for a president!! the disgrace obama is on his second vacation of 2014 this time its spain....

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 5:38 PM, oldsniper50 wrote:

    Matthew Frankel-Economists that have crunched numbers before you could read have stated unequivocally that an average of 300,000 jobs need to be created per month for 2 years or more. If you truly believe these numbers you don't have any facts. The BLS doesn't account for those who have dropped out of the work force, only for those collecting unemployment. The BLS was caught fudging the numbers prior to the 2012 election to make the idiot Obama look better. The realistic unemployment rate is about 13% but the Odumma WH can't say that because all the do is lie.

  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 6:18 PM, bee1 wrote:







  • Report this Comment On January 13, 2014, at 11:18 PM, john4828 wrote:

    don't forget Alabama and Mississippi. nothing here at all. Even fast food places are not hiring

  • Report this Comment On January 14, 2014, at 8:42 AM, Ricneo86 wrote:

    It's ok to use Puerto Rico since it is a territory of the U.S. But the writer can't refer to Puerto Ricans as migrants. Their natural citizens of the U.S. And have never been part of the green card system. Hence...their Americans. For any of you upset about this fact take up with Theodore Roosevelt. But these are the facts.

  • Report this Comment On January 14, 2014, at 8:51 PM, VirginIslander7 wrote:

    Seeing that the author has yet to respond, we can safely conclude that this joke of an article was clearly written (to try) to get a rise out of the residents from the 5 places mentioned. Matthew Frankel (if that's even his real name) hasn't done any kind of research whatsoever to substantiate his findings, otherwise he would have mentioned the most obvious economic situation in the VI at the moment (i.e., closure of Hess Oil). I only signed in to this website to spare my fellow Virgin Islanders further need to respond to this ignorance. The fewer hits this website gets, the shorter its lifespan will be. People unite!

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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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