Nationally, 18.9% of Americans were underemployed in 2010, but rates varied substantially across states, according to new Gallup data. A group of six states, mostly in the middle of the country, had underemployment rates of less than 15% in 2010 and of those, only two: North Dakota and Wyoming , had less than 12% underemployment.
Midwest, Plains Dominate Low Underemployment Rates
Of the remaining four states with underemployment ranging from 12 to 14.9%, three are Midwestern or Plains states: Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas. The only coastal state to achieve that low an underemployment rate was New Hampshire, located in New England.
Underemployed Americans are generally those who are not working to their desired capacity. Gallup considers respondents to be “underemployed” if they are either unemployed or employed part-time (less than 30 hours per week) and wish to be employed full time.
High Underemployment States Spread Out, Include CA
In contrast to the mostly central location of the six states with the lowest underemployment rates, nine states with underemployment rates of 21% or higher were relatively spread out across the country. They include the nation’s largest state, California, as well as Michigan and Nevada, which have been hit by downturns in the automotive and gambling industries, respectively.
Classifying these nine states by region, three are in the South (Florida, Mississippi and North Carolina), two are on the West Coast (California and Oregon), two are in the Midwest (Illinois and Michigan), one is in the Southwest (Nevada), and one is not part of the contiguous 48 states (Hawaii).
Twenty-two states cluster in the underemployment range of 18% to 20.9%, relatively close to the 18.9% national average.
Underemployment Unique Situation
Gallup advises that underemployment is related to, but does not necessarily follow the state-by-state patterns of, other economic measures. North Dakota, for example, is in the top 10 states of the union not only in terms of underemployment, but also on measures of economic confidence and job creation (see below). California is in the bottom 10 states in terms of underemployment and in job creation, but is not among the worst states in terms of economic confidence.
Gallup did not measure underemployment at the state level in 2009, so it is not currently possible to track state-by-state trends compared to the previous year.
North Dakota, DC Best Job Markets
North Dakota and the District of Columbia were the two best US job markets in 2010, according to recent Gallup Job Creation Index data. More than half of the 10 best job markets in 2010 were in energy- and commodity-producing states.
About the Data: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking for 2010, with a random sample of 213,088 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 US states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.