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: 9.0%
> June unemployment rate: 4.6% (tied — 15th highest)
> Average wage: $54,302 (11th highest)
> Labor force growth: 1.8% (11th largest increase)
In Texas, 9.0% of the labor force is underemployed, less than the 9.5% national rate. One factor likely contributing to the state’s slightly better than average job market is steady employment growth. From 2011 to 2016, the number of jobs in Texas grew at an average of 2.5% a year, the seventh fastest job growth of any state. Like the United States as a whole, GDP growth in Texas in 2016 was led by the education and health services sector.
In recent years, falling oil prices have been a drag on the Texas economy. Roughly one-third of the nation’s mining and logging workers — which includes the oil extraction and refining industry — are employed in Texas. However, the sector detracted more from the state’s 2016 GDP growth than any other. The state’s underemployment rate rose from 8.3% a year ago to 9.0% today, one of the largest increases of any state.
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.