Horses race in Kentucky

Kentucky Has the Highest Number of Job Openings Relative to the Size of Its Workforce

Alaska Leads the Great Resignation

This month’s Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey recorded 11.5 million job openings across the U.S., a new record high. And a record 4.56 million workers quit their jobs. This week’s state-level data provide more detail and show us where employers are facing the most acute labor shortages and retention challenges, and—on the flipside—where job seekers can find the most favorable hiring conditions.

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Here are the highlights of the State Employment and Unemployment Report and the State Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from this week:

1. Kentucky led the nation in job openings in March.

There is great momentum in Kentucky’s business environment right now. Month after month, the state has ranked in the top 10 with the highest number of vacancies. According to the State JOLTS report, the state’s employment level could grow 9.8% if employers were able to fill all their job openings. 

The world-known Kentucky Derby had a hand in boosting demand for labor. Since the beginning of 2022, growth in online postings for seasonal jobs has outpaced growth in jobs overall in the Bluegrass state. According to ZipRecruiter’s internal data, the number of active online postings for seasonal jobs increased by five-fold in March accounting for 4% of the state’s job postings up from 1% just the month before. 

2. Kansas workers experienced the greatest degree of job security.

Current labor shortages have made employers rethink firing or laying off workers, given how challenging it has been to replace them. Amid rapid nominal wage growth, which is especially high for job switchers, it can cost employers far less to retain their existing workers than to attract new talent. 

3. Alaska workers quit their jobs at the highest rate.

Alaska’s workers aren’t giving up. Rather, they’re trading up due to the abundance of other job opportunities right now. The state posted the second highest job openings rate (9.2%) in the nation, offering plenty of opportunities to Alaskans who are exploring their options. 

However, Alaska’s wages have yet to respond to the tightest labor market conditions in state history. At 3.4%, wage growth in the state is almost half the national average of 6.7% (as measured in 2021 Q3, the most recent state level data from BLS). Wages are only growing slowly in the seafood production, and oil and gas industries, keeping overall wage growth low.

4. Seventeen states reached their lowest unemployment rates on record.

With 1.9% unemployment rates, Nebraska and Utah are tied in the race for the lowest jobless rate in the country. They are among 17 other states with the lowest unemployment rates since 1976, when data collection began. Not surprisingly, both Nebraska and Utah also have the tightest job markets in the country with 3.6 and 3.8 job openings per unemployed person, respectively. 

States with record-low unemployment ratesUnemployment rate
South Dakota2.3
West Virginia3.6

Written by

Sinem Buber is an economist at ZipRecruiter with a focus on US labor market insights and trends. Previously, she worked at ADP Research Institute where she published the ADP National Employment Report. She holds a PhD in Economics from The Graduate Center, CUNY.

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