These 25 American States Have Terrible Job Growth in 2018

It’s hard to separate President Donald Trump’s lies from the truth sometimes, but believe this: The jobs market is as strong as ever. The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania confirms job numbers and home prices are up while unemployment is down. Nearly every state has positive job growth in 2018, according to a Kiplinger study, but some are performing better than others. If you’re looking for work, you’ll want to avoid these U.S. states with the lowest job growth rates in the United States.

Let’s take a look at the 25 states where job growth is the slowest (including the one at No. 9, which surprised us). In the case of ties, we sorted in alphabetical order.

19. Alabama (TIE)

Birmingham, Alabama, USA
Like the rest of Alabama, Birmingham’s job growth is solid, but not as strong as the rest of the U.S. | SeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.3%

Every state bordering Alabama has stronger job growth in 2018, but it’s not all bad news. The modest 1.3% growth represents close to 27,000 jobs, and the auto and airplane manufacturing industries are poised to keep growing.

Next: A giant silver lining in our next state.

19. Michigan (TIE)

Michigan’s capitol building in Lansing. | Benkrut/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.3%

The term “terrible job growth” is relative, so while Michigan has a lower rate than most states, there’s still a huge silver lining. Unemployment is the lowest since 2001, and the state’s added nearly 55,000 new jobs in 2018.

Next: A big money maker for the state is going the wrong way.

19. Nebraska (TIE)

'Welcome to Nebraska' sign board on a empty road
Nebraska’s good life might not be so good for farm workers in 2018. | iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.3%

Nebraska job growth rate is up 1%, and the 12,900 new jobs are more than four times the 2017 number. However, the state relies heavily on farm production to drive the economy, and Kiplinger estimates that income could dip as much as 7%.

Next: A state with a situation similar to Nebraska.

19. New Mexico (TIE)

Santa Fe, New Mexico church
New Mexico’s job market is closely tied to the mining industry. | ablokhin/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.3%

Like Nebraska, the state we just visited, New Mexico’s job market is humming along with the rate and the number of jobs up significantly from 2017. However, mining is a big part of the economy, and a minor setback in that sector could reverberate throughout the state.

Next: Things could be worse.

19. Pennsylvania (TIE)

Welcome to Pennsylvania sign
Pennsylvania is starting to get back on the right track when it comes to jobs. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.3%

Even though Pennsylvania’s job growth rate is on the low end nationally, things could be worse. The job market wasn’t so great in the Keystone State from 2015 to 2017, but healthcare and natural gas production are two sectors bearing the torch for the job market.

Next: This state won’t think twice about these figures.

19. South Dakota (TIE)

The state capitol in Pierre, South Dakota
South Dakota’s job numbers are twice what they were in 2017. | entzy/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.3%

We know South Dakota is very friendly to businesses, but in 2018, it’s kind to job-seekers, too. The rate and number of new jobs (5,800) are more than twice what they were in 2017.

Next: The job growth rate hides some staggering numbers.

19. West Virginia (TIE)

Beckley, West Virginia
Despite the growth, West Virginia is a bad place to try and find a job. | Tim Kiser/Wikimedia Commons

2018 job growth rate: 1.3%

Based on wages and unemployment, West Virginia is one of the worst states for job seekers. The unemployment rate is over 5%, according to the Kiplinger study, and the 10,000 new jobs in 2018 have as much to do with growth as the 25,000 people who left the state.

Next: A tax-friendly state.

16. Delaware (TIE)

Capitol building in Dover in Delaware
Delaware adds more than 5,000 jobs in 2018. | prosiaczeq/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.2%

The state famous for low taxes is adding jobs, but at a lower rate than some others. Its job growth rate is up about half a percent, which translates to 5,500 new jobs in 2018.

Next: One reason our next state makes the list.

16. Missouri (TIE)

Missouri welcome sign
Agriculture trade battles won’t be good for Missouri. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.2%

The number of jobs the growth rate are up, and unemployment is down in Missouri, so it makes this list mostly because it’s not growing as fast as some other states. Trade battles could impact the beef, corn, pork, and soybean markets, but the jobs market is just another reason Missouri is among the best places to live.

Next: The numbers are down a bit in 2018.

16. New York (TIE)

The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York
Healthcare is the big reason New York has job growth. | tupungato/ iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.2%

New York continues to add healthcare jobs, and the three biggest employers in the state are in that field. But the rate and the number of new jobs are slightly lower in 2018 than they were in 2017, and the expensive housing market around New York City might discourage incoming talent and make it hard to fill jobs.

Next: This state should see growth for years to come.

13. Illinois (TIE)

Chicago downtown skyline
One of the main reasons Illinois has job growth is because no one wants to live there. | RudyBalasko/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.1%

Job growth is up, and unemployment is the lowest since 2006 in Illinois. It translates to more than 63,000 jobs in 2018, and Kiplinger points to one reason the job market will remain strong. Illinois is one of the states people don’t want to live in, and the number of people leaving ensures jobs should be plentiful for a while.

Next: Another problem could loom on the horizon.

13. Maine (TIE)

Augusta, Maine on the Kennebec River
The job market in Maine isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. | SeanPavonePhoto/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

2018 job growth rate: 1.1%

Unemployment is down while the number of jobs and job rate are up in Maine. Sounds great, right? Well, the Kiplinger study notes that, because unemployment is so low, there might not be enough people looking for work to fill the open jobs.

Next: Things are slowing down.

13. Minnesota (TIE)

State Capital Building, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA
Minnesota’s job growth isn’t what it used to be. | 7Michael/Getty images

2018 job growth rate: 1.1%

Having a job growth rate over 1% isn’t necessarily terrible, but 2017 was a lot better for Minnesota, and things are slowing down in 2018. The 32,200 new jobs are more than 7,000 fewer than 2017, and the rate is down by roughly one-fifth.

Next: Take a step back.

10. Iowa (TIE)

Teens parading cattle during 4-H event at the Iowa State fair
Iowa is adding jobs, and not just in agriculture. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.0%

Yes, Iowa’s 1.0% job growth is one of the lowest rates in 2018, but it’s a huge improvement when you take a step back and compare it to recent history. The state has 15,200 new jobs in 2018, nearly eight times more than in 2017, and the rate of growth is 10 times higher than it was in 2017 thanks in part to Apple and Facebook expansion. So while the job growth isn’t as high as some other states, it’s a lot better than it used to be.

Next: Take the good with the bad.

10. Louisiana (TIE)

In New Orleans on Bourbon St. on August 7, 2013 a jazz band plays jazz melodies in the street for donations from the tourists and locals passing by on this hot summer evening
New Orleans loves to celebrate, but Louisiana’s job market is nothing to cheer about. | Simplyphotos/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.0%

You have to take the good with the bad when talking about Louisiana’s job market. The good:

  • The job growth rate improved from -0.1% in 2017 to its 2018 rate.
  • After losing 2,100 jobs ion 2017, Louisiana added more than 19,000 in 2018.

But then there’s the bad:

  • Unemployment is stagnant at 4.7%.
  • The state’s oil industry once pumped from 215 wells, but that number is down to 56 in 2018.

Next: Things aren’t as good as they look.

10. Wisconsin (TIE)

Wisconsin Welcome sign at Marinette WI
Wisconsin welcomes you — to a competitive job market. | Csfotoimages/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 1.0%

The lowest unemployment rate in years and nearly 31,000 new jobs point to a strong market, but things aren’t as good as they look. Growth figures to max out around 1% statewide since the large number of job openings attracts a higher number of job seekers.

Next: A surprising state.

9. Indiana

View of President-elect Donald Trump speaking at the Carrier plant in Indiana in November 2016.
The lost jobs at Carrier are just a fraction of Indiana’s overall decline. | Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.9%

Trump promised Carrier workers in Indiana he’d save 1,100 outgoing jobs, but he only spared a fraction of them. It’s an isolated case, but it’s indicative of a state-wide trend. Even though 2018 unemployment is lower, Indiana’s number of jobs and growth rate are slower than in 2017.

Next: Heading in the right direction.

8. Connecticut

Street in New Haven, Connecticut
Job growth is getting better in Connecticut. | AlbertPego/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.8%

Connecticut’s job growth was almost flat in 2017, at 0.1%, so its 0.8% rate in 2018 shows the state is heading in the right direction. The Nutmeg State added 13,500 jobs in 2018, according to Kiplinger.

Next: Don’t get too excited.

6. Arkansas (TIE)

Protesters in Little Rock, Ark.
Jobs are getting harder to come by in Arkansas. |  Andrea Morales/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.7%

Arkansas is part of the national trend of strong job growth, but don’t get too excited. It’s 0.7% rate is one of the lowest, and its trending the wrong way. The rate is lower and unemployment higher than in 2017, the state added just 8,200 new jobs, and Walmart is trimming jobs at its Bentonville headquarters.

Next: Not much consolation in this state.

6. Montana (TIE)

Aerial view of Main Street in Bozeman Montana
Montana’s scenery is pretty, but its job market isn’t as nice. | DianeBentleyRaymond/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.7%

Montana’s 3.8% unemployment rate is on the low end, but that’s not much consolation when you look at the other figures. The state is adding just 3,300 new jobs in 2018 (compared to nearly 5,000 the year before), and the rate of growth is down, too.

Next: It’s not all rosy.

5. Maryland

Maryland State capital building
Maryland’s job market is slowing down in 2018. | Mj0007/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.6%

Some big companies, such as Stanley Black & Decker and Bank of America are adding jobs in Maryland, but it’s not all rosy in Maryland. The growth rate is slower than it was in 2017, and the state is adding about 10,000 fewer jobs in 2018.

Next: Kiplinger doesn’t pull any punches with this state.

4. Vermont

Vermont scenery job growth
The aging and declining population are the reasons Vermont has jobs. | Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.5%

Vermont’s job growth rate is extremely modest, especially when you compare it to most of the other states in America. Kiplinger predicts growth years into the future, but it doesn’t pull any punches as to why — namely an aging and declining population contributing to labor scarcity.

Next: Heading in the wrong direction.

2. Kentucky (TIE)

LOUISVILLE, KY - OCTOBER 27: A worker builds the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition SUV as it goes through the assembly line at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant October 27, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky. Ford recently invested $900 million in the plant for upgrades to build the all-new Expedition and Lincoln Navigator, securing 1000 hourly U.S. jobs.
The auto industry and the big cities cover up for Kentucky’s overall poor job growth. | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.3%

The Kiplinger study notes that Lexington and Louisville have strong job markets, but overall, Kentucky is heading in the wrong direction. The new jobs and job growth in 2018 are half of what they were in 2017, which makes us wonder if Trump might keep losing support if things don’t get better.

Next: This state is tied to one industry.

2. North Dakota (TIE)

oil industry North Dakota
North Dakota’s job market is closely tied to the oil industry. | Andrew Burton/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: 0.3%

Things look great on the surface for North Dakota. The job growth rate is positive after dipping down to -0.9% in 2017, and the 1,300 new jobs are a substantial swing from the 3,700 it lost the previous year. But the state economy relies heavily on oil production, so a downturn on prices or demand will significantly impact the job market in a bad way.

Next: Bringing up the rear.

1. Alaska

Church in Fairbanks Alaska just before sunrise.
Alaska is the one state with negative job growth in 2018. | lippyjr/iStock/Getty Images

2018 job growth rate: -0.7%

Alaska had the highest unemployment rate in 2017, and it does again in 2018. The state is down 2,200 jobs, unemployment is over 7%, and the rebound to better numbers is taking longer than expected.

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