Job meccas in the U.S.A.
Some states are adding jobs much faster than others. We know, because we've been measuring job creation in all 50 states for 10 years in our annual America's Top States for Business study. (You can see our full study and our methodology here.)
Job growth is a key metric in our Economy category, measuring employment increases over the previous 12 months based on seasonally adjusted nonfarm payroll numbers from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. That means we've been measuring job growth since June of 2006. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, but these 10 states have been the best places to find a job over the last 10 years.
(Note: Figures based on jobs data through May 2016)
10. South Carolina
South Carolina didn't experience the overbuilding that many of its neighbors did during the housing boom, but the overall economic crisis still hit hard — and it hit the state earlier than most. That has made for easier comparisons as the recovery rumbled along, but South Carolina has also benefited from a surging health-care sector that continues to add jobs.
2006–2016 job growth: 8.28 percent
Net jobs added: 156,200
Key industries: Health care, manufacturing
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 40
Idaho was adding jobs at a steady clip when we began keeping track, and like much of the country at the height of the housing boom in 2006 and 2007, the biggest gains came in construction. That set the state up for a big plunge when the economic crisis hit in 2007. But gains in other sectors — especially health care — have made the state an overall job creator in a big way.
2006–2016 job growth: 8.41 percent
Net jobs added: 53,700
Key industries: Transportation, utilities, health care
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 21
8. New York
The home of Wall Street hit a big wall when the financial crisis hit, putting the brakes on the real estate market and costing thousands of people their jobs. Employment began to rebound in 2011, but the statewide figures don't tell the full story. Much of the growth has occurred in the New York metropolitan area, leaving large portions of upstate New York still in the cold.
2006–2016 job growth: 8.5 percent
Net jobs added: 730,800
Key industries: Finance, real estate, construction
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 6
Massachusetts has had its ups and downs since we began ranking the states, but there have always been constants, including the robust technology, health care and education sectors. They helped the state shake off the worst of the recession and bounce back in a big way. Today, Massachusetts and New England are adding jobs at the fastest pace in years.
2006–2016 job growth: 8.55 percent
Net jobs added: 279,400
Key industries: Finance, technology, health care
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 16
6. South Dakota
A business-friendly state that has attracted back-office operations for major financial services companies, South Dakota was America's Top State for Business in 2013. Job growth was so steady that the state was suffering a serious worker shortage. State forecasters expect health care, particularly nursing, will be a major job driver in the next few years.
2006–2016 job growth: 8.97 percent
Net jobs added: 35,700
Key industries: Health care, construction
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 13
The home of Microsoft and Amazon, as well as Boeing's manufacturing operations, Washington state has an economy tailor-made for job creation, and it has not disappointed. State forecasters expect that some of the greatest job gains in the next few years will come in construction, mining and software development.
2006–2016 job growth: 12.04 percent
Net jobs added: 348,800
Key industries: Construction, Technology
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 15
A major theme over the past decade has been the transformation of Colorado's economy to meet the challenges of the 21st century. High tech was key for much of the decade, but state forecasters expect mining and related occupations will be major job engines in the next few years.
2006–2016 job growth: 13.67 percent
Net jobs added: 311,900
Key industries: Professional and business services, mining
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 4
The push to develop Utah's already robust technology sector in the so-called Silicon Slopes area in and around Salt Lake City has paid off in a big way. Information technology has led the surge in Utah's job market, and it shows no signs of letting up.
2006–2016 job growth: 17.65 percent
Net jobs added: 212,500
Key industries: Information technology, mining
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 2
If ever a state was a jobs juggernaut, it's Texas, which has shaken off its traditional reliance on energy to create an economy that is diverse — Texas-size. The proof has come with the recent decline in oil prices. While some were predicting a repeat of the oil shocks of the '80s, Texas took up the slack with gains in health care and information technology. Oil is still the state's lifeblood, but Texas seems ready for whatever the economy can throw at it.
2006-2016 job growth: 19.17 percent
Net jobs added: 1.9 million
Key industries: Energy, health care
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 1
1. North Dakota
Thanks to shale oil, North Dakota has experienced perhaps the biggest domestic economic boom since the Gold Rush. But the numbers show the perils of an economy too focused on a single industry. Plunging oil prices pulled the rug out from under North Dakota's job market. Employment is still up sharply versus 10 years ago, but it is well off its peak. The state is down nearly 20,000 jobs in the last two years alone.
2006–2016 job growth: 24.77 percent
Net jobs added: 87,299
Key industries: Energy, engineering, life sciences
10-year Top States Economy rank: No. 3