GOBankingRates

Best and Worst States If You’re Unemployed — and Want a Job

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If you’re out of work or looking to change careers, where you live has a lot to do with how you’ll fare. Although there isn’t one best place to find a job, some places are far more hospitable to job seekers than others.

GOBankingRates analyzed the three most critical components of each state’s employment situation: employment growth rate, unemployment rate and the number of weeks each state allows residents to collect unemployment insurance compared to the 26 weeks most states allow. Using this information, GOBankingRates developed a score based on a combination of all three factors and then ranked the states accordingly, from worst to best.

GOBankingRates also examined state housing markets and looked at median list prices to see how they compare to the $213,146 median home value in the United States as a whole, though this was not included in the final score.

Click through to see the best and worst states to be unemployed.

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50. Missouri

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.6 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.38 percent

Not only does Missouri suffer from the eighth-lowest employment growth rate in the country, but it also allows out-of-work residents only 13 weeks of unemployment insurance. That’s half the time most states offer.

The good news, however, is that the median home price is a relatively low $170,000, so you can own a home for less than $1,000 a month in the state, a separate GOBankingRates study found.

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49. Alaska

  • Unemployment Rate: 7.3 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.02 percent

Alaska suffers from the highest unemployment rate in the entire country. But if you do manage to get a job there, you’ll benefit from living in one of the seven states with no income tax.

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48. North Carolina

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.21 percent

North Carolina sits near the bottom thanks to a low 12 weeks of maximum allowable unemployment insurance. The median home price — $259,000 — is also above the national average, and it’s one of the worst states for first-time homebuyers, according to a separate GOBankingRates study.

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47. Kansas

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.24 percent

Just 10 states in the country suffer from a lower employment growth rate than Kansas. Adding to the state’s unattractiveness to job seekers is a policy that allows a paltry 16 weeks of unemployment insurance.

At $175,000, however, the median home value gives the state one of the country’s lowest housing costs. Kansas is also one of the most expensive states to own a car, a separate GOBankingRates study found.

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46. Florida

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.9 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.25 percent

A major drawback for the unemployed in Florida is that the state offers its job seekers just 12 weeks of unemployment insurance. At just three months, that’s tied with North Carolina for the lowest in the country.

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45. Connecticut

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.5 percent
  • Employment Growth: -1.25 percent

This New England state has the lowest employment growth rate in the U.S. Between April 2017 and April 2018, the civilian labor force in Connecticut shrunk by over 24,000 workers.

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44. Pennsylvania

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.7 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.88 percent

If you’re out of work in Pennsylvania, you’re not alone. The state has the seventh-highest unemployment rate in the country.

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43. Arkansas

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.02 percent

In Arkansas, job seekers have just 20 weeks to fall back on unemployment insurance. On the bright side, houses are affordable — the median price of a home is $165,000.

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42. Michigan

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.7 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.73 percent

Michigan allows its job seekers just 20 weeks of unemployment insurance while they’re on the hunt. On the bright side, the median home costs just $169,500.

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41. Georgia

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.96 percent

Georgia boasts the sixth-highest level of employment growth in the country. The problem, however, is that the state allows its job seekers just 14 weeks of unemployment insurance.

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40. New Jersey

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.5 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.71 percent

Not only does New Jersey have declining employment, but you should also be prepared to pay a lot to live in the Garden State — the median home value is $299,000.

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39. Mississippi

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.6 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.56 percent

Mississippi is tied with New York for the sixth-highest unemployment rate in the country. Thinking of moving there? The average home in the state costs just $175,500.

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38. Wyoming

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: -1.18 percent

Wyoming has the second-lowest employment growth rate in the country. Housing doesn’t make up the difference, either, with median home prices at $240,000, which is higher than the median value across the country.

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37. South Carolina

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.2 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.69 percent

With a maximum of just 20 weeks of unemployment insurance, South Carolina can be a difficult place to be unemployed. And housing can be expensive: The average home in the state costs $249,995, which is above the median list price in the U.S.

Click to see why South Carolina is among the states where it takes millennials the longest to buy homes.

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36. New York

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.6 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.36 percent

The Empire State has a median home value just shy of $400,000 — the fifth highest in the U.S. More bad news for the unemployed: New York’s labor force decreased by over 35,000 between April 2017 and April 2018.

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35. Ohio

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.02 percent

Ohio is tied for the ninth-highest unemployment rate in the country. The good news, however, is that the median home price is just $154,900, the second lowest of all the states.

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34. Illinois

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.12 percent

Illinois is tied for the eighth-highest unemployment rate in the U.S. And with a median home value of $224,900, housing is a little bit more expensive than in the country as a whole.

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33. New Mexico

  • Unemployment Rate: 5.4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.02 percent

Just one state has a higher unemployment rate than New Mexico. And at $219,000, the median home costs slightly more than that in the nation as a whole.

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32. West Virginia

  • Unemployment Rate: 5.4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.22 percent

West Virginia is tied with New Mexico for the second-highest unemployment rate in the country. There are housing deals to be had, though. At $150,000, West Virginia has the lowest median home value of any state in America.

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31. Kentucky

  • Unemployment Rate: 4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.1 percent

Employment is growing in Kentucky — just at a very slow rate. However, housing is affordable in the Southern state. The median home list price is $175,000, which is the sixth-lowest in the country.

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30. Maryland

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.3 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.36 percent

Maryland is tied for the ninth-highest unemployment rate. And with a median value of $300,000, homes cost more in Maryland than most places in America.

Must-Read: How Much Home You Can Buy for $300,000 in Every State

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29. Alabama

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.04 percent

Employment is declining in Alabama, but the situation is not as dire as in some other states. Between April 2017 and April 2018, the civilian labor force did shrink, but by less than 950.

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28. California

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.2 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.55 percent

California has the 10th-highest unemployment rate in the country, and the state’s median home price is high at $515,000 — second only to Hawaii.

See: 13 Ways California Real Estate Differs From Every Other State

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27. North Dakota

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.6 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.64 percent

North Dakota is home to the country’s second-lowest unemployment rate, but employment decreased significantly in the state. Only four states had bigger losses in employment between 2017 and 2018.

See: States Where the Economy Improved the Most in 2017

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26. Iowa

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.4 percent

Just six states in the U.S. currently have lower job growth rates than Iowa. That negative, however, is tempered by the state’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate. That’s tied with three other states for the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country.

Another bright spot is housing. The median home value is just $179,900.

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25. Rhode Island

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.5 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.01 percent

A house in tiny Rhode Island comes with big price tags. The median home value is $290,000.

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24. Montana

  • Unemployment Rate: 4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.12 percent

Falling in the middle of the list is Montana, which offers job seekers some reasons to be optimistic. The state has an unemployment rate of 4 percent and offers 28 weeks of unemployment insurance to those who are out of work.

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23. Delaware

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.2 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.9 percent

Delaware has a median home value of $279,990, which is well above the national average. On the plus side, the civilian labor force in the state increased by about 4,300 over the past year.

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22. Louisiana

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.5 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.35 percent

Louisiana suffers from the country’s seventh-highest unemployment rate, but employment is growing at a healthy rate.

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21. Washington

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.61 percent

If you plan on moving to the Pacific Northwest, be warned that houses are not cheap. The median home value in Washington is $369,900. But there are jobs to be had in the state, which experienced the ninth-highest employment growth of all the states.

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20. Indiana

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.5 percent

Indiana has a low 3.2 percent unemployment rate, but the state suffers from a low employment growth rate.

With a median value of $170,000, homes in Indiana are among the cheapest in the nation.

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19. Maine

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.7 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.19 percent

A low unemployment rate puts Maine near the front of the pack for states friendly to job seekers. With a median price of $229,900, homes aren’t cheap, but they’re just slightly more expensive than the national average.

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18. Oklahoma

  • Unemployment Rate: 4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.28 percent

The good news for job seekers considering moving to the state is that with a median home value of just $179,900, housing is among the cheapest in the nation.

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17. Virginia

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.3 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.72 percent

Virginia has the eighth-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S., but the median home list price in the state is above the national average: $299,900.

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16. Hawaii

  • Unemployment Rate: 2 percent
  • Employment Growth: -0.31 percent

Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate in the country. The downside for people considering to move, however, is extremely high housing costs. The median home value in the state of Hawaii is a whopping $599,000.

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15. Nebraska

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.53 percent

Nebraska is tied with three other states for the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the entire country.

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14. Nevada

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.9 percent
  • Employment Growth: 2.32 percent

Job prospects are good in Nevada, which has the fourth-highest employment growth of all the states. However, unemployment is still high: At 4.9 percent, the state has the third-highest unemployment rate in the U.S.

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13. Arizona

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.9 percent
  • Employment Growth: 2.38 percent

Like Nevada, Arizona is a state of employment polarization. It claims the third-highest employment growth rate and the third-highest unemployment rate.

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12. South Dakota

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.17 percent

South Dakota earns a place just shy of the top 10 with an unemployment rate that ties with two other states for the ninth-lowest. The median home value is $228,250, which is slightly above the national average.

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11. Oregon

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.1 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.78 percent

Oregon has an unemployment rate over 4 percent, but the state’s strong selling point for job hunters is that it boasts the country’s eighth-highest employment growth rate.

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10. New Hampshire

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.6 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.59 percent

New Hampshire is tied with North Dakota for the second-lowest unemployment rate in America. But with a median value of $289,900, homes are pricey in the New England state.

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9. Texas

  • Unemployment Rate: 4.1 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.84 percent

Although employment in the Lone Star State is hovering just above 4 percent, Texas enjoys the seventh-highest employment growth of any state in the country.

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8. Wisconsin

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: 0.92 percent

Wisconsin is tied with three other states for the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country. At $199,900, the median home value in Wisconsin is below the national average.

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7. Vermont

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.8 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1 percent

Just four states have lower unemployment rates than Vermont, making it one of the best states for unemployed job seekers.

Click to see 21 signs you need help managing your money.

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6. Minnesota

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.2 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.4 percent

With a median price of $265,900, homes cost more in Minnesota than they do in the country as a whole. But the state has the seventh-lowest unemployment rate in the U.S.

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5. Tennessee

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.4 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.59 percent

Job seekers can benefit from Tennessee’s employment growth, with a rate that’s the 10th-highest in the country. The state also has the ninth-lowest unemployment rate.

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4. Idaho

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.9 percent
  • Employment Growth: 2.68 percent

Idaho boasts the second-highest employment growth rate and the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in the entire country. The state, however, gives out-of-work residents just 21 weeks — five short of the norm — to lean on unemployment insurance.

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3. Massachusetts

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.5 percent
  • Employment Growth: 1.25 percent

Massachusetts is a good place to be out of work and looking for a job: The state allows job hunters a full 30 weeks of unemployment insurance. That’s longer than any other state.

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2. Utah

  • Unemployment Rate: 3.1 percent
  • Employment Growth: 2.21 percent

If you’re a job seeker hoping to re-enter the workforce, there’s almost no better place to be than Utah. The state has the fifth-highest employment growth rate in the country and the sixth-lowest unemployment rate.

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1. Colorado

  • Unemployment Rate: 2.9 percent
  • Employment Growth: 3.14 percent

At 3.14 percent, Colorado claims the title of the state with the highest employment growth rate in the entire country. To make the state even more enticing for job seekers, it also claims the fifth-lowest unemployment rate in America.

Read: Best Banks in Colorado for Your Money

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Best and Worst States for Unemployed Job Seekers

If you’re unemployed and looking for work, it’s best to move to a state where employment is growing, unemployment is low and you can take out unemployment insurance for as long as the job search takes.

Three of the top five states for job seekers are located in the West: Colorado, Utah and Idaho, with Massachusetts and Tennessee claiming the other two spots.

The five worst states for job seekers are more geographically spread out: Missouri, Alaska, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida and Connecticut. In all but Alaska, the maximum number of weeks you can collect unemployment insurance is well below the national average, which can make it tough for the unemployed to make ends meet during their job search.

Andrew Lisa contributed to the reporting for this article.

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Methodology: GOBankingRates analyzed the three most critical components of each state’s employment situation: employment growth rate, unemployment rate and the number of weeks each state allows residents to collect unemployment insurance compared to the 26 weeks most states allow. We developed a score based on a combination of all three factors and then ranked the states accordingly, from best to worst. We also examined state housing markets by examining median list prices according to the Zillow Home Value Index, as they compare to the $213,146 median home value in the United States as a whole. (This was not included in the final score.)