Need a Job? Then You Have To Go To These U.S. States

It’s harder to be happy and healthy without a good job. Want to change careers? Ready to move to a better place? You just need to know where to look. Governing reviewed Labor Department numbers to find the states with the most job growth. Those who value warm weather will see one sunny state added tons of new jobs last year (page 9).

18. Montana

under construction building
Construction work | Lamontak590623/iStock/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.6%
  • Growing industries: physical therapy, construction, nursing
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: cost estimation

Montana makes it on two lists — one good and one bad. Sadly, Montana is the 17th most dangerous state in the U.S., ranking low in personal and residential safety. The plus side of living in “Big Sky Country”? Its job market is growing steadily.

Next: Things get wild in this New England state.

17. New Hampshire

computer programmer
Computer science | DragonImages/iStock/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.6%
  • Growing industries: health care, computer science, hospitality
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: advanced manufacturing

The job industry is rock solid in the Granite State — or is it? The state’s low unemployment rate represents hundreds of vacancies, making it hard for employers to find qualified workers. The good news: You can take advantage whether you’re a seasoned professional or recent college grad.

Next: The lakes are pretty and the jobs are plentiful.

16. Michigan

Dentist repairs tooth of his female patient
Dentist checkup |
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.6%
  • Growing industries: linguistics, dentistry, technology
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: credit counseling

The Great Lakes State is transforming into a tech and health-care hotbed. Its 2018 forecast indicates even more job growth and “an economy that continues to diversify,” according to MLive.

Next: The job market is hot in this cold state.

15. Minnesota

Couple talking to bank manager
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.7%
  • Growing industries: agriculture, banking, healthcare, bioscience
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: massage therapy

The rust belt and upper Midwest hardly match the job growth in the rest of the country, except for Minnesota. The chilly state — especially the bustling Twin Cities — attracts industrious professionals and progresses in lucrative industries every year.

Next: Move to this state — unless you’re a teacher.

14. Tennessee

A worker builds an engine for a 2012 Ford Focus on the assembly line at the Ford Motor Co.'s Michigan Assembly Plant December 14, 2011 in Wayne, Michigan.
A worker on the assembly line | Bill Pugliano/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.7%
  • Growing industries: consulting, manufacturing
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: medical sonography

When is 1.7% job growth concerning? When you’re Tennessee and your rate was nearly 1% higher the last time the numbers came out. Still, the state is a hotbed for jobs, adding 280,000 from 2010 to 2016. Except for teachers, who have it tough in Tennessee, it’s a great place to start a job search.

Next: Staying steady keeps this state on the list.

13. Massachusetts

Financial advisor
Financial advice | Szepy/iStock/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.7%
  • Growing industries: financial services, technology, life sciences
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: photography

Massachusetts has some of the most job growth for two straight years. The sustained growth is even more impressive when you consider welfare recipients make more than minimum wage workers in Massachusetts.

Next: The job market complements the great craft beer scene.

12. North Carolina

Line of Angus cattle
Cow farm | JackieNix/iStock/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.7%
  • Growing industries: agriculture, manufacturing, financial services
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: phlebotomy

Just like its neighbor to the west (Tennessee), North Carolina added close to 100,000 jobs and had a 2.3% jobs growth rate in 2016. Both figures dropped a bit in 2017, but the Tar Heel State still has many, many job opportunities (and great craft beer, if you’re into that kind of thing).

Next: The job market is always golden here.

11. California

Beverly Hills Hotel from the corner of Sunset Blvd
Beverly Hills Hotel | rappensuncle/iStock/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.8%
  • Growing industries: agriculture, tourism, entertainment
  • Surprisingly lucrative trade: wind turbine technology

California will always be one of the states with the most job growth since it is so big and so many people live there. But seeing job growth slow by about 1% and 125,000 jobs in 2017 wasn’t enough to keep The Golden State off our list.

Next: A range of jobs have hot markets in this state.

10. Colorado

Dave Warden, a bud tender at Private Organic Therapy (P.O.T.), a non-profit co-operative medical marijuana dispensary, displays various types of marijuana available to patients
Displaying marijuana | Photo by David McNew/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 1.9%
  • Growing industries: marijuana, health care, information security
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: mining

Legal marijuana gives Colorado’s job market a boost, but it doesn’t explain the sustained job growth. The state added 56,000 jobs in 2016 and tacked on another 50,000 in 2017.

Next: A service industry surge makes this one of the best places to look for a job.

9. Maryland

Computer engineering | Jean-Christophe Verhaegen/AFP/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 2%
  • Growing industries: hospitality, information security, healthcare
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: lodging management

Maryland is one of the worst states for retirement, but the job market is another story. The state had an additional 20,000 jobs in 2017 with strong growth in the service industry.

Next: Everything’s bigger, including job growth, in this state.

8. Texas

wind turbine
Wind turbine | Spencer Platt/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 2.3%
  • Growing industries: wind turbine technicians, statisticians, health care
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: rod busting

You take the bad with the good in Texas. It’s one of the worst states for property taxes and you’ll pay a ton for car insurance. But it’s also one of the states with the most job growth in 2017.

The Lone Star State enjoyed 1% stronger job growth and added 120,000 jobs from 2016. Oh, and did we mention Texas has no state income tax and residents get huge tax refunds?

Next: The West Coast makes another appearance.

7. Oregon

businesswoman shopping online at desk in the office
Business services | Wavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 2.4%
  • Growing industries: advanced manufacturing, business services, forestry
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: health claims

Scenic views, great year-round weather, and a status one of the states that had the most job growth make Oregon an ideal place to look for a job.

The rate and the number of jobs added in 2017 slipped slightly from 2016, but it’s still a hotbed. About the only downside to living and working in Oregon is the state income taxes.

Next: Slower growth in 2017 doesn’t hurt this state’s standing.

6. Washington

A man cleans the cockpit windows of an Airplane
Aerospace | Patrick Pleul/AFP/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 2.4%
  • Growing industries: aerospace, agriculture, information technology
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: pest control

Even though there were 20,000 fewer new jobs in Washington in 2017, it remains one of the best states for jobs in the U.S. Seattle-based Amazon is always hiring, but the entire state is one of the best for job-seekers.

Next: This state is in select company when discussing job growth.

5. Georgia

Nurse looking at patient
Nursing | Martin Barraud/iStock/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 2.4%
  • Growing industries: accounting, management, nursing
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: teaching (elementary level)

Only five states added 100,000 or more jobs to their totals in 2017, and Georgia was one of them. We’ve visited two already (California and Texas) and we’ll get to another in a minute.

In addition to the thousands of job openings in Georgia, residents enjoy affordable homes, great school systems, and a lot of Southern charm.

Next: Construction and food companies put this state on our list.

4. Idaho

supervisor checks the interior of a new warehouse
Construction supervisor |
  • Job growth rate (2017): 2.5%
  • Growing industries: construction, advanced manufacturing, food production
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: personal styling

Boise’s low unemployment and sustained job growth put Idaho on this list, but the entire state is thriving. It’s one of the best states for construction jobs. Chobani and McCain Foods are adding jobs, too. Top it off with a plethora of outdoor opportunities and Idaho has one of the hottest job markets.

Next: A sunny state more satisfying than it seems

3. Florida

bellman, at the Ritz-Carlton
Hospitality careers abound in Florida. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 2.6%
  • Growing industries: tourism, agriculture, trade, aerospace
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: occupational therapy

Florida is the most-hated state in America for many reasons, but the job market isn’t one of them. Thanks in part to $35 million of state-funded grants, sustained job growth is the norm, even though numbers were down in 2017. The state added 275,000 jobs and enjoyed 3.4% growth in 2016.

Next: Construction and hospitality jobs are hot.

2. Utah

A concierge helps a couple. | Source: iStock
  • Job growth rate (2017): 3%
  • Growing industries: construction and hospitality
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: veterinary care

People leave Utah when they hit retirement because of a flat tax and the state taking a cut of Social Security. But its 3% growth rate in 2017 makes it one of the states with the best job market. Southwest Utah leads the way, but the whole state enjoys plenty of job opportunities.

Next: This state’s reputation as a bad place to live is outdated.

1. Nevada

car engineer
Engineering | Zapp2Photo/Getty Images
  • Job growth rate (2017): 3.1%
  • Growing industries: hospitality, engineering, machinist jobs
  • Surprisingly lucrative industry: electrical

Nevada’s one of the worst states to make a living? Not if you look at the Governing figures. With 3.1% growth and 40,875 jobs added in 2017, the state nearly repeated its 2016 figures and cemented its status as No. 1 on the list of states with the most job growth.

All the hotels and casinos mean hospitality is a popular job, but engineer and machinist are two other big jobs in Nevada, according to Zippia.