States With the Lowest Unemployment Rate in 2017

Updated : December 13th, 2021

Since the last report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US unemployment remained unchanged at 4.1 percent in February 2018. This remained at a 17 year low and slightly above the 4 percent market expectation. In the best states employment holds 30 percent of the weight in the ranking of the economy. In order to evaluate the economy, it can be based on three major metrics which include labor force participation rate, job growth, and unemployment rate. The labor force participation rate measures the percentage that employed or actively looking for a job. The unemployment rate is measured by the percentage of the labor force which is out of a job. These three metrics indicate the employment and economic prospects in the state.

States With the Lowest Unemployment Rate in 2017

The number 1 state for employment is Hawaii which is followed by North Dakota, Colorado, and Utah. You should also know that the worst state for jobs is West Virginia and it followed by New Mexico, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Even though California ranks 29th in the ranking, it has the 4th best economy because it ranks in the top five for both growth and business environment, and in two subcategories it is the Best States for the economy.

While the number of unemployed increased by 22,000 to 6.71 million, employment rose by 785,000 to 155.22 million. In this time, the total labor force participation rate rose by 0.3 percentage points to 63 percent which is the highest in 5 months. While the unemployment rate averaged at 5.79 percent until 2018, the all-time high reached 10.8 percent in November 1982 and the record low of 2.5 percent in May 1953.

Change in Unemployment Rate

Based on this metric, you can evaluate the compound annual growth rate of nonfarm jobs over three years from 2013 to 2016 based on employment and the number of new jobs created. Far West and the Rocky Mountains had experienced the highest job growth rates while places in the Plains and Mid-Atlantic states had struggled. There were only four states which boasted of a growth of more than 3 percent. These states included Delaware, Arizona, and Oregon. Unlike these states, five states had negative growth rates: Wyoming, West Virginia, Alaska, Vermont, and Nebraska.

As of December 2017, Hawaii and North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rates in the country and it is followed by New Hampshire and Nebraska. Half of these 10 states had the highest unemployment rates and this included regions in the Southeast and Southwest. Out of all states, Alaska ranked No. 50 with a 7.2 unemployment rate. But in this period unemployment rate was at 4.1 percent with the lowest in the Rocky Mountain and the regions in the Great Plains.

In February, the number of long-term unemployed remained almost unchanged at 1.4 million and accounted for 20.7 percent of the unemployed. In the last year, the total long-term unemployed was down by 369,000. Also, in the same month, the civil labor force rose by 806,000. Total employment rose by 785,000 and hence the employment-population ratio increased by 0.3 percentage point to 60.4 percent and the last four months have seen little change. Also, those that worked part-time for economic reasons and this changed slightly at 5.2 million. Though these individuals would have preferred full-time employment and working part time because hours were cut or they were unable to find full-time jobs.

Also, in February, there were 1.6 million people that were marginally attached to the labor force was a little different from the earlier year. Some individuals were not part of the labor force but were available for work and looked for work in the last 12 months. They were earlier counted as unemployed as they did not search for a job in the last 4 weeks. There were also 373,000 discouraged workers which is down 149,000 from the previous year. There were discouraged workers that believed that there were no jobs and hence were not looking for jobs. Finally, the remaining 1.2 million persons that were marginally attached to the labor force had not searched for a job because of family responsibilities or school attendance.

This chart explains the Unemployment Rate for last ten year till 2017

State Unemployment Rates

Important Factors On Unemployment Rate

Here are some of that help in determining unemployment and the unemployment rate:


In the best states, healthcare is worth one-third of the weight of the ranking. There are 6 metrics that contribute to the rankings. These include child wellness visits, health insurance enrollment, adult wellness visits, adult dental visits, child dental visits and health care affordability. There are many Americans that have access to quality healthcare while others face barriers like a lack of insurance and things that prevent them from receiving basic health services. This lack of access to quality healthcare has increased the public health and financial burden on the state residents and the population on the whole.

Massachusetts has the best healthcare access but ranks fifth in healthcare and No. 8 overall state. Hawaii is the No.1 state in healthcare and is second in healthcare access. Four New England states make up the Top 10 which include Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. In the US, the worst state for healthcare access is Alaska but it ranks fourth in healthcare quality. Finally, six of the bottom 10 states for healthcare access are Mississippi, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, and Alabama.

When it comes to dental care, this metric determines the percentage of adults that do not visit a dental clinic for any reason like visiting a dentist, dental hygienist or dental specialist, within the past year. There is data that suggests that around 34 percent of adults do not visit the dentist and 26 percent are from New England while 40 percent are from the Southwest. While New England states comprised of the three of the top five states, 22 percent comprised of people from Connecticut which had the smallest percentage of those that did not visit dental clinics. Louisiana ranked at No. 50 for adult dental visits with 43 percent of adults that did not visit a dental clinic in the past year.



Higher Education takes up to half of the weightage of the education rankings. This metrics involves the numbers of citizens in each state that hold a college degree. There is a wide variance based on the states and regions. Massachusetts had ranked No. 8 among all the best states which was 10 percentage points than states in the Southwest and Southeast. This ranking will also account for the time that it takes for students to complete both the two and four-year college programs. This includes the cost of tuition, fees structure by state and the burden of debt that the college graduates have to face. South Dakota has the highest percentage of students that complete a two-year college degree within 3 years at 61 percent. Vermont has the highest average college in 2016 at $15,000 a year while Wyoming had the lowest cost at about $4,175 a year. In terms of the smallest debt burden, Utah averaged at less than $20,000 per student and the biggest debt burden, New Hampshire students were set back at more than $36,000 on average.


In terms of opportunity, forty percent of the weightage is given to measurements of opportunity based on the economic opportunity. The percentage of households living below the poverty line is the lowest in Mississippi. Based on metrics like food insecurity, children and adult count and those that do not get adequate nutrition, Mississippi and North Dakota rank the lowest. This takes into account the median household income in every state with Maryland’s ranking at the highest. It also gauges the disparity of income between the lowest income households and the highest. Alaska shows the smallest disparity between rich and poor. Four metrics are indicators that judge things beyond economic opportunity. These include employment, stability, health and the effect of quality of life in the state’s population. The No. 1 state for economic opportunity is New Hampshire and this is followed by Alaska, Maryland, Hawaii and North Dakota. While the best state overall was Iowa, it was ranked as 15 in this subcategory. The 15 states at the bottom of the list for economic opportunity include Southeast and Southwest states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi.


The condition of infrastructure is key to evaluating the quality of life for all Americans. When it comes to ranking the best states for infrastructure, quality of roads, bridges and the use of renewable energy. Even though the US is among the list of the top nations for education, quality of life and entrepreneurship, it lags behind considerably in infrastructure.

The condition of infrastructure is key to evaluating the quality of life for any state’s citizens. In ranking the Best States for infrastructure, use of renewable energy and the quality of roads and bridges were major considerations. While the U.S. is among the top nations for education, entrepreneurship, and quality of life, it lags behind in infrastructure, earning a D+ in the American Society of Civil Engineers 2017 report card. There is a new $1.5 trillion plan by President Trump to rebuild bridges, ports, roads and other public works. But this plan has not seen the light of day since it is based on state and local funding and there is a shortage of skilled construction works which left post the period of recession and this has increase project costs. Iowa and North Dakota stand out as the best 2 states for infrastructure. The top 10 include most western and plains states like Utah and Idaho and half of these states are in the top 10 of overall best state rankings.

Crime and Correction

It is quite notable that crime in America has reached historic lows despite cities like Chicago, Charlotte and Baltimore seeing an increase in overall crime. Chicago accounts for less than 1 percent of all the US population but accounts for more than 20 percent of murders in 2016 alone. But, today the average person walking on the street is safer than 30 years ago. While the populations in state and federal prisons have seen a slow decline, the US imprisons more of its citizens than any other developed country. This has led to overpopulation in the prisons and the increase in the fiscal burden for states and this is disproportionate for affected minorities. A lot of states have a higher incarceration for minorities than Caucasians. While crime rates vary from state to state, there is a difference in how states deal with this issue from modernizing prisons to operating efficient correctional systems. New England states have the best crime and correction and Maine ranks No.1 and New Hampshire is a close second. But, more populous urban states like New Jersey and New York stand out of the rankings. In all of the top 10 states, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont rank in the top 10 best states.

Fiscal Stability

The Bill of Rights enumerated all the basic rights and not the US Constitution. This was the 10th Amendment that reserved an unspecified list of rights for states. Fiscal stability is important to ensure that the state’s government allows for government sponsored programs and projects that affect the quality of life to the state’s residents. Today, these rights and powers of the states have enabled a broad range of services to their citizens. This includes the delivery of public education, state administration, and the overall fiscal health. An amazing fact is that the economy of California is equal to that of France. The No. 1 state is Utah and second is North Dakota. There are several midwestern states that rank in the top 10 and include Indiana and Missouri. Others on the east coast that are top rated in fiscal stability are North Carolina and Florida.

Quality of Life

Finally, one of the most important indicators that have guided policymakers and determined regulations was based on the quality of life index. This would ensure that there is a safe relationship between the people and the environment. Regulations like the Clean Air Act, Environmental Protection Agency, Clean Water Act, Safe Drinking Water Act are some important measures introduced. This was done to help states properly dispose of pollutants at treatment plants and meet the federal standards of public drinking water. The main objective was to help preserve the state’s resources and protect the public from harmful toxins and other health concerns. People have time and again shown their support and made their voices heard to improve these Acts. North Dakota and Minnesota are the most effective at promoting their citizens’ well-being by providing both a healthy environment and a sense of social connectedness. In the list of top states, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, South Dakota and Mississippi feature. There are measures in place to regulate the drinking water quality, air quality, the natural environment and the total toxic chemical pollution per square. The ranking also checks the risk on citizens. Social environment plays an important role and investigates people are involved in their communities. Political involvement includes evaluating the average voter turnout for presidential and congressional elections.

You can explore this chart to determine how states are ranked in terms of unemployment.

Table on Unemployment Rates for States

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  1. I was fired through no fault of my own in the state of NJ. I was hired to help build an apparel startup. Hired for coming from a corporate background, I would make my professional suggestions on how to improve and develop product as that type of information was always welcomed but unfortunately not utilized. During my time, I’ve repeatedly tried to help the company to avoid costly mistakes in the future when it came to producing apparel, yet my boss preferred to always “wing it” change direction and never follow any type of calendared process. Fast forward and to no surprise to me there is an issue with production and I’m informed with vague information and so as a professional, I remind the owners (again) of the proper protocol that I’ve been suggesting and believing that they finally understood this now. But the understanding was an awakening that was too late (as it seems). Therefore a week later, I was fired as a cut in finances, With no severance, I ask for a confirmation on days worked in order to claim for unemployment due to the financial reduction but then am emailed that due to my decision making that the company lost thousands of dollars and that I didn’t perform my job. I continued to apply for my claim and was denied with allegations that in addition to losing thousands of dollars that I now stole candy (of all things) from the company under footage which is false, and that I watched movies on my phone which was also a false claim. The adjudication office has reached out to me to give me 2 days to reply against the ridiculous allegations and I have replied to all her points of accusations. I had also added more information which I regret now because I was a bit emotional because of the low blows that came my way. Nevertheless, the email had been sent and I am now waiting to see the next steps.
    My question is this. In the state of NJ, what are the next steps for determination?
    Will my former employer read my comments which will only add fuel to the fire (which is true on the additional emotional writing) and then create more lies?
    Have employers gotten away with denying claims by creating false claims?
    This is not what I had expected nor planned to rebuttal in an adjudication.
    I only wanted unemployment pay while I continue to look for work.

  2. I went on medical leave in 2016. I had 2 years of approved leave with pay and benefits. Over the past 2 years, I continued on medical. In May of 2018 my employer tried to terminate for refusing to follow the company doctor’s recommendation to return to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. I was never informed of where to report or when to report for work. I didn’t even know of the attempted termination until I didn’t receive my bi-weekly payment. I filed a greviance to get my job, pay, and benefits back and was awarded a temporary re-instatement until I had a third party doctor exam. During all of this, I reached my 2 year limit on pay and benefits. Once the 3rd party medical exam was done, the doctor sided with me that there were health reasons for not restoring me to my previous position. But he also agreed with my employer’s company doctor offer of returning to work with restrictions in a non hazardous area. My employer informed me at that time they had no jobs available for me. Since I no longer receive pay or benefits I filed for unemployment. The state said that my employer objected to my request for umeployment on the grounds that I’m weeking fulltime for them and now it has been 6 weeks pending adjudication. I receive no pay no benefits and was told I don’t have a job from my employer. How can they hold up my unemployment pay?

    1. Gil,

      Thank you for writing to us. The outcome of the adjudication depends on the paperwork/documents you submit supporting your stance. Please make sure to prepare well and argue confidently in your favor.

  3. I live in the state of Nevada and had filed for unemployment a few months back in June and was denied because of not earning enough funds in that quarter which show that I’m trying to open a claim on a previous claim considered double dipping. I was told that if I worked and made $1,200 then that would be enough to fulfill and be approved for unemployment claim for the new quarter. I did work a new job started the job as a project assistant for a plumbing company to which the hiring manager knew I had never worked in plumbing but had over 20 years in construction. All in all I worked really hard to understand the plumbing industry but I could never satisfy my supervisors expectations and the last week of me working she basically took ball work from me and kept saying she will handle it even though I would ask every hour or less if there is something that I could do, she kept denying me any work because she was frustrated that I couldn’t do the job is good as she did even though she’s been there for 30 years. I was receiving unemployment funds for the past 3 weeks and suddenly I have to wait till November 2nd for an adjudication meeting and my funds have been placed on hold until then. Can my claim be denied because I could not do the job she expected even though she hired me knowing my previous experience? What should I expect now?

    1. Brooke,

      There is a thin line. It can go against your since expectations were not met or it can also be in your favor for unreasonable demands from your supervisor. If you think you have a strong case, make sure to argue well and present all supporting paperwork.

  4. The state of Oregon UI told my spouse every claim that isn’t due to lack of work now goes through adjudication! Is that true or are they just saying that because she ‘resigned en leiu of termination’ in her trial period? She worked for the state, and didn’t want to be unable to find employment in another department.

    1. Ambrose,

      I don’t know if this is true. How can you confirm? By calling the office again and asking for a different representative to speak to.

    2. Yes, this is true, Oregon will adjudicate any “employment separation” that isn’t due to a lack of work. FYI they’ll also treat a resignation in lieu of termination as her being fired because if your wife’s employer told her “quit or you’ll be fired”, she didn’t really have much of a choice and she was going to lose her job either way.

  5. I was terminated while on Workers Comp. The employer didn’t call me, I was notified a month after the fact by the insurance carrier for the employer! And get this,,,When I opened my UI case to start benefit payments, I notated in the questionnaire that I have a lifting restriction imposed by the Doctor but that I can still physically work and I’m currently available to work….and I was denied UI benefits.
    I’m appealing.

    1. Will,

      I think you should be eligible to collect UI benefits under such circumstances. Please make sure to keep supporting documents handy to support your stance during the Appeal.

  6. I’m currently appealing an availability issue in Massachusetts. I was accepted to a local community college never enrolled and because at the time when I applied I stated I was accepted they denied me. I was laid off due to lack of work it was a temporary position on August 3, 2018. My previous employer I was with 2+years, however I did quit that job which I’m sure doesn’t help my claim, however I’ve submitted everything from my most recent employer including wages which redetermined me eligible. Now I’m appealing my availability… I’ve contacted the college to get verification letter stating I’m not enrolled nor have I ever been but due to their protocols they fought me tooth and nail to get this verification. Stating there’s nothing to send if I’ve never been so there. Last week they finally sent a certified seal enrollment letter that shows I am inactive and never enrolled or registered within that institution. I think it was to stop me from constantly contacting them. Will this help remove the availability disqualification? Also are availability cases easier to resolve?

    1. Lily,

      To offer a straightforward answer to your question, if you lost the previous job due to involuntary reasons (no fault of yours), you should be eligible to collect.

      1. So I just got my Late Appeal decision after sending in all necessary information as to why I was filing late pertaining to being offered a temporary job. The decision states DETERMINED.

        Not exactly sure what that implies. I’m assuming the worst though. Since no adjudicator ever called me. Can you please clarify?

        1. Lily,

          I suggest you call the Claims Center to find out the status. It more or less means the “Determination” process is now complete.

      2. UPDATE: I called the claims center to clarify the adjudicator’s decision they stated that it means I found eligible for the Late Appeal regarding my availability. The representative also stated that its very strange to be appealing a one party decision ( thus meaning appealing just myself.) Will I still have to continue with this hearing since my enrollment verification proves with a certified seal inactivity and no enrollment has ever been made? Are availability appeals easier to win since its not a wage or reason for termination I am appealing?

        1. Lily,

          This seems like a complicated situation. I suggest you ring up the adjudicator and consult him/her on further steps.

  7. my adjutication was removed and my case still says that im eligble and active does that mean the ruled in my favor ?

    1. Jeannette,

      That is correct. The authorities might have ruled in your favor and ruled out the need for an adjudication. Please call the office for clarification.

  8. After working at various jobs over the course of 24 years and never being fired,I finally was recently. The reason was arguing with a manager because she was unprofessional and baited me into a argument and I signed the statement she wrote against me before I left and now I wonder will the unemployment official side in my favor over me signing the statement..

    1. Jason,

      If you’re able to prove your position preferably with supporting documents, you should be able to collect UI benefits.

  9. Can you be denied unemployment after being terminated for allegedly making a customers grocery bags too heavy. Customer made a complaint that I packed her bags too heavy. When I had only put 4-6 items in each bag. This occurred while I worked for Meijer.

    1. That sounds like an awful reason to terminate employment. Please consider applying for UI benefits until you find employment. You may want to speak to the Unemployment Office in your state once before applying. Please call them.

  10. I moved to NC for a Job the employer begged for me to work for him. The job is 1 hour away. I got sick one day driving there and went to work and told the girl I was working with that I was sick and may need to go home so I call the the staffing lady and the own and told them I’m sick and I’m going home they said OK. Next day get a text saying I’m off for the next 2 think they could not find anyone to work with me see my tech went on vacation. When my tech came back from vacation they told her she will be working alone she sent me the text I was shocked because now it’s two weeks with out work I’m a fulltime worked get a w2 at the end of the year. I work the own stating what is going on why you not having me work I said I will have to file unemployment no response. Umployment told them I walked off the job when the all said I called them when I was leaving stating I was sick and they sent Umployment the call off work text they sent me its been 6 weeks and no amswer on my unemployment case help if you can

    1. Lace,

      Unemployment Insurance benefits are extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons. If you think this was the case, please consider filing until you find employment. Make sure to keep supporting documents handy in case of a dispute.

  11. I filed for unemployment in florida but then moved to Georgia, after I was unable to obtain a job in Florida. I was hired at amazon in Florida but have already moved to Georgia and receiving unemployment at the time. The unemployment is now adjudicating because it picked up that I was a new hire at Amazon but I Couldn’t work for Amazon seeing how I moved out of Florida before I was hired. It has now been eight weeks of claiming with a hold on my funds what will happen next?

    1. Ernest,

      If you still remain unemployed, you should be able to continue claiming UI benefits. Since you’ve moved to Georgia, you can consider transferring your claim over to the new state.

  12. I worked a 3 yr contract with an employment firm. That contract ended unexpectantly and I filed unemployment. The employer called me with 2 jobs. one of the jobs was at the company that I just left and the company had a 6-month wait and I was unsure if I could return to the company. I expressed this to the employer and they said that they would check to see if I could return to the employer. I was trying to avoid rejection/embarrassment for myself and the employer. I was submitted for 2 jobs.

    The employer filed a protest saying I had refused work. I spoke with the adjudicator. (Who called me a day earlier than our call) It turns out two jobs that of the two jobs they said I had refused. they had submitted me for one and the other was the job aforementioned. the employer never got back in touch with me and I eventually applied for the job.

    The adjudicator told me that I would receive two letters in the mail in 5 -7 business days and told me to keep certifying.

    Any idea where this is landing. The employer did not tell the truth and I sent documented information to our phone call. The adjudicator said that they had cancellations and that was why he was calling a day early.

    Any ramifications for the employer not telling the truth.

    1. It’s the time to make a strong case for yourself. Chase the adjudicator at regular intervals and submit the required documents in your support.

  13. I finally got the courage to do this as I now get Social Security but I doubt things have changed. Years ago when I was working I had a sales job and they did all sorts of sexist crap. They would not pay the spiffs to females. They called you names over the intercom. They would break things on products ordered and picked up by customers. People knew about it but would not come forth. When you saw something illegal going on that you were not supposed to see, you got fired. The employer lied about you to the DES and they even lied to future employers so that you never had respect once you worked at their place. The so called judges as your hearings admonished you for speaking out but there was nothing to be done unless others backed you up and they were afraid for their jobs. This still goes on. For the most part it is women judges doing the bidding of male employers. Some of these women should be asking themselves questions about the lives of others they were complicit in destroying. There never was any recourse for sexual harassment and discrimination and there still is not. Have any of these female judges ever thought to require further proofs from the employers. Has any judge ever compelled the employer to proof of sales or production exceeded by the women who have been fired? That would be the most telling. When other situations arise and the female employee has been with the company for more than five years, have any of these judges had the sense to ask if the person lasted with you that long and their last evaluation was superior enough to merit a raise, why do you all of a sudden doubt the employee? There is no common sense to these horrible women and they are there as judges because of their stupidity. The system is geared to protect only the rights of the employer so don’t be down on yourselves if you find yourself a victim because if the employer loses then you have a case! DES judges are paid to destroy people.

  14. Please contact me I’m going to be homeless loose vehicle they are holding my unemployment and I don’t know why I’ve been doing everything and more I’m a cancer patient and have to get to my therapy today I can’t go cause my trucks out of gas and no money

    1. Jerome,

      Hope you get out of this situation soon. Please let us know how we can help you. This is a private forum and our help can be limited. If you’re referring to Unemployment Insurance, please call the Claims Center for further inquiry.

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