The U.S. unemployment rate is currently 4.4%, nearly its lowest point in a decade. While the unemployment rate reflects the millions of Americans who are out of work and actively seeking employment, the measure does not fully capture the degree to which Americans are unable to find the jobs they want.
In addition to those seven million Americans captured by the traditional unemployment rate, there are millions more who are working part-time jobs because they could not find full-time employment, as well a large share of workers who have recently given up on their job search altogether and are now marginally attached to the workforce.
> Underemployment rate: 9.8%
> June unemployment rate: 5.1% (tied — 4th highest)
> Average wage: $44,089 (12th lowest)
> Labor force growth: 1.3% (15th largest increase)
Some 9.8% of Kentucky’s labor force is underemployed, a small decline from the 10.5% share one year ago. While the decrease in labor underutilization was due to a decline in the state’s jobless rate, the BLS estimates that 5.1% of workers remain unemployed, tied with Arizona as the fourth highest jobless rate in the country.
Employment in the state increased at an average annual rate of 1.4% between 2011 and 2016, slightly less than the 1.9% national rate. One factor slowing economic growth in Kentucky may be related to educational attainment in the state’s workforce. Just 23.3% of state adults have a bachelor’s degree, a considerably smaller share compared to the 30.6% national rate.
The underemployment rate — a combination of unemployed job seekers, discouraged and other marginally attached workers, and people settling for part-time jobs as a share of the labor force — is a more comprehensive measure of labor underutilization, and this measure varies considerably across the country.
To determine the easiest and hardest states to find full-time work, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed underemployment rates in all 50 states with data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The underemployment rate ranges from below 7% in some states to over 11% in others.