With unemployment topping 9.6% and seven million fewer jobs to go around, finding work these days is a grueling process. For many, it means changing careers, and moving to another state. But one thing Americans want more than anything else according to the polls is the ability to work.
Therefore, if the job market in your geographic location seems to have dried up, it may be time to broaden your net to include jobs in other states, even if means moving across the country.
To help you find those areas with the most jobs, Forbes magazine has come out with its 10 best states for jobs and businesses and the best state for jobs this year is Utah, whose economy has grown 3.5% annually over the past five years, which is faster than any other state except North Dakota, which just missed the top ten and was the eleventh best state for jobs.
Utah's economic growth is three-and-a-half times faster than the U.S. as a whole. While total employment has shrunk in America over the past five years, in Utah it increased 1.5% annually. Household incomes have gone up 5% annually, which is tops in the country and twice as fast as the national average.
Here's something other states may want to take note of, or at least those running for governor. Utah lowered its corporate tax rate from 7% to 5% in 2008, to the delight of businesses. The rate is now one of the lowest in the country. The regulatory climate is also pro-business, with the Pacific Research Institute rating Utah second-best in the regulatory component of its U.S. Economic Freedom Index.
Utah's other plus factors include energy costs at 35% below the national average; an educated labor force, with 90% of residents holding a high school diploma (and 29% a college degree); a great quality of life with low poverty rates; a healthy populous; and ample recreational opportunities. Utah boasts a triple-A debt rating from Moody's, S&P and Fitch. Earlier this year Forbes crowned Utah the country's most fiscally fit state government.
Companies have taken notice. Goldman Sachs is expanding its operations in Utah, and its Salt Lake City office is now the company's second-largest in North America. Adobe is creating 1,000 new jobs while Oracle and eBay are both building large data centers in Salt Lake City.
The Forbes Best States ranking measures six vital categories for businesses: costs, labor supply, regulatory environment, current economic climate, growth prospects and quality of life. It factors in 33 points of data to determine the ranks in the six main areas. Business costs, which include labor, energy and taxes, are weighted the most. It also relies on 10 data sources, with research firm Moody's as the most-utilized resource.
Last year's number one state, Virginia, is number 2 this year. Virginia still has a very favorable business climate, with an educated labor supply and solid economic growth. But Virginia's business costs for labor and energy have crept up, which allowed Utah to beat it. Rounding out the top five are No. 3 North Carolina, No. 4 Colorado and fifth-ranked Washington.
The bottom five of the top ten include: 6. Oregon, 7. Texas, 8. Georgia, 9. Nebraska, and 10. Kansas.
Don't rule out the entire Northeast. Judging by Forbes rankings, despite high business costs and crippling budget deficits. New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts moved up in the rankings this year compared to last year. Massachusetts made the biggest move of any state this year, climbing from No. 34 to No. 16.
Business costs in Massachusetts may be the highest in the country: 22% above the national average, but venture capital continues to pour into the state taking advantage of the bright minds at elite universities in and around Boston and Cambridge. VCs invested $2.9 billion in Massachusetts companies last year, second only to California.
Perhaps the least likely state to provide work this year is Maine, which replaced No. 49 Rhode Island at the bottom of our rankings. Growth prospects in Maine have deteriorated relative to the rest of the country because of a number of business closings the past three years.