You don't ordinarily associate anything negative with an area's low unemployment rate but with fewer people out of work in South Dakota, there's a big unintended consequence - more job openings than people to fill them.

According to a new study from CareerCloud, the Mount Rushmore State has the fifth-most job openings in the country, with nearly one-and-a-half unfilled positions for every out-of-work person.

Washington DC has the biggest labor shortage in the country, with more than two jobs open for every unemployed person.

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District of Columbia 2.37


  1. Nebraska - 1.80
  2. New Hampshire - 1.60
  3. Vermont - 1.59
  4. Utah - 1.45
  5. South Dakota - 1.44
  6. Idaho - 1.29
  7. Montana - 1.21
  8. North Dakota - 1.20
  9. Georgia - 1.12
  10. Alabama - 1.10

At the other end of the spectrum, Hawai, New York, and California have the smallest numbers of unfilled jobs:


  1. Hawaii 0.41
  2. New York - 0.45
  3. California - 0.45
  4. Nevada - 0.50
  5. Connecticut - 0.51
  6. Louisiana - 0.52
  7. New Mexico - 0.53
  8. Arizona - 0.56
  9. New Jersey - 0.59
  10. Illinois - 0.59

As of last week (September 8), there were 10.9 million job openings in America, compared to 8.3 million people out-of-work. That's led to massive labor shortages across the country, which have forced some businesses to cut back on their hours, while others have simply shut their doors.

COVID has certainly played a role in the glut of open jobs, but so have low wages.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as well as employment websites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, and CareerBuilder, three of the four industries with the highest number of job openings have annual wages that are well under the national median of $56,000:

  • Trade, Transportation, and Utilities - 1,884,000 openings ($47,452)
  • Professional and Business Services - 1,789,000 openings ($70,229)
  • Education and Health Services - 1,683,000 openings ($51,533)
  • Leisure and Hospitality - 1,650,000 openings ($25,658)

As it usually does, South Dakota has one of the lowest unemployment rates in America - 2.9 percent, joining Nebraska (2.3%), Utah (2.6%), and New Hampshire (2.9%) as the only four states with an unemployment rate of less than three percent.

Eight states - Nevada (7.7%), California (7.6%), New Mexico (7.6%), New York (7.6%), Connecticut  (7.3%), Hawaii (7.3%), New Jersey (7.3%), and Illinois (7.1%) - all have unemployment rates topping seven percent.

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