The job market in the United States is still shaky, but some states are more stable than others. Unequal employment growth distribution means that while certain areas are suffering economically, others are drowning in work and calling for families to move into the region. Knowing which industries are thriving where, and being willing to move to them, is the key to holding down steady employment. These are the top 10 states for future job growth.
Unemployment rate: 8.1 percent
Pennsylvania suffered from the decline of construction and manufacturing long before the recessions, but the discovery of huge reserves of shale oil have brought new jobs into the state. Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and the Lehigh Valley are the largest sources of technical and skilled employment. The health industry is particularly strong, as are management positions at local businesses. Prospects are bleaker in the rural portions of the state, which are devoted to agriculture and small-town shops. In these areas, food service is the dominant employer.
Unemployment rate: 8.2 percent
Washington is home to a thriving IT industry, with major firms like Amazon and Microsoft around the Seattle area. Smaller start-ups are also establishing themselves in Washington, providing plenty of chances for career mobility. Engineers and manufacturers can aim for a position at Boeing, which specializes in aeronautical technology, while naval and submarine bases along the coast provide exciting opportunities for military members. The eastern side of the state is primarily focused on agriculture and hydroelectric power from numerous dams along the Columbia River.
Unemployment rate: 5.2 percent
Utah's low unemployment rate illustrates a growing state in need of trained professionals. Long written off as little more than a religious haven in the desert, the strong work ethic of Utah's population is an attractive draw for businesses. Healthcare is booming, as are technology and tourism. Utah has the attitude and momentum of a state on the rise, and the increasing infrastructure to prove it.
7. South Dakota
Unemployment rate: 4.5 percent
South Dakota is doing well. In fact, it's doing so well that the state government is actually paying recruiting firms to bring people in. Its key to success has been low tax rates, high manufacturing and an emphasis on skilled labor. Neighboring North Dakota has also left a hole in the workforce as residents head north to fill the need for oil field workers. Agriculture is also a major source of income for the state.
Unemployment rate: 8.1 percent
Arizona is a land of sweeping landscapes and perennially balmy weather. Recognizing this, the tourist industry invested heavily in the state, and businesses followed. The expansion of young cities has led to great demand for construction workers, and Arizona is quickly becoming the technology hub of the Southwest. As a growing economic center, Arizona is the perfect destination for those who hate long winter commutes.
Unemployment rate: 3.8 percent
Nebraska is often dismissed as a fly-over state, home to acre after acre of corn, wheat and soy. But with a 3.8 percent unemployment rate, Nebraska's jobs figures have other states sitting up and taking notice. As a matter of fact, agriculture is only one of Nebraska's industries. It is home to an aging population, meaning there is a growing need for healthcare professionals in a variety of roles. The state also hosts immense "data farms" and call centers requiring supervision, with the potential for further IT development in the future.
4. New York
Unemployment rate: 8.7 percent
New York City looms large in the American mind as a place of eternal opportunity. Traditional job sectors such as construction have flagged, and the constant dips of Wall Street have stifled investment, but industry outside the big city is moving in. New tech start-ups make New York the place to be for intelligent young developers, artists and software engineers. The state is also increasing its education programs and health care systems.
Unemployment rate: 8.5 percent
Florida is a mixed-bag economically. The housing crash of 2007 hit the state particularly hard, and the construction industry still hasn't recovered. On the other hand, an elderly population is always in need of doctors, therapists and nurses. Plumbers and handymen are also in demand to care for homes built decades ago in the initial surge to Florida. Combine that with booming trade operations along the coast and large call centers, and Florida is one of the better states for certain skill sets.
Unemployment rate: 6.6 percent
Texas' economy is growing faster than almost any other state in the nation. Oil drilling brings in billions of dollars every year, and Texas is also a leader in alternative energy. Mining, lumber and manufacturing all support the leading energy industry, and Austin has a thriving IT community. The only thing working against Texas' favor is the fact that many of its new jobs are entry-level or low-wage work.
Unemployment rate: 3.1 percent
If South Dakota is bustling, North Dakota is exploding. Massive oil reserves are attracting the unemployed from across the nation, eager to become part of an economy that simply can't get enough workers. People are sleeping in RV parks as they wait for housing to be built. Besides the jobs available in oil extraction and transportation, there are also entire communities, doubling or even tripling in size, in need of professionals to handle the new crush of population. Because almost anyone can find a job in North Dakota, it is the best state in the country for those seeking work.