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: 9.5%
> June unemployment rate: 3.6% (15th lowest)
> Average wage: $47,396 (25th highest)
> Labor force growth: 2.1% (9th largest increase)
Like many southeastern states, Tennessee has had rapid job growth since the recession. The number of employed workers in the state grew at an average annual rate of 2.1% between 2011 and 2016, slightly higher than the 1.9% national rate. In 2016 alone, employment in Tennessee rose 2.9%, the seventh most of any state. The professional and business services and leisure and hospitality sectors led economic growth for the year. The only sector with negative GDP growth in the state was mining and logging, which expanded in just three states. Economic growth has helped decrease labor underutilization in the state. Today, 9.5% of Tennessee’s labor force is unemployed or underemployed, an improvement from 10.2% one year ago.
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.