Photo: Ken Lund via Flickr
The best job markets boast low unemployment rates, high wage growth, and overall happiness among workers in the area.
The worst job markets? Picture the exact opposite.
We already checked out the best job markets of 2018. Now we’re looking at the worst.
These areas have the bleakest outlook on employment of anywhere in the country. The employment situation may be great throughout the country, but not in these areas.
If you’re a new grad looking for work or someone in their mid-career searching for a change, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for here.
These are the 10 worst job markets for 2018:
- Olympia-Tumwater, WA
- Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ
- Yuma, AZ
- Morgantown, WV
- Watertown-Fort Drum, NY
- Parkersburg-Vienna, WV
- Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY
- Yakima, WA
- Merced, CA
- Yuba City, CA
Only five states comprise the bottom 10 job markets for 2018. It’d be easy to dismiss these states as bad for employment as a whole, but each has strong job markets throughout their area, too.
Just goes to show that the strength of job markets varies, not only by state but by metro area, as well.
How we determined the worst job markets of 2018
Looking at 386 different metro areas, we ranked each 1 to 386 in three categories – wage change, unemployment rate change, and current unemployment rate – one being best, 386 being the worst.
The average of the three numbers was then used to produce a final ranking of each metro area. The lower number the average, the better job market.
For this study, we focused on the higher numbered averages – those metro areas that had the highest unemployment rate and wage decreases. These areas are the worst job markets for 2018.
Read on for a closer look at the bottom 10 metros, then a list of the bottom 50 at the end.
1. Olympia-Tumwater, WA
Employed population: 109,400
Unemployment rate: 5%
Annual mean wage: $49,750
Fun fact: Seattle is not the capital of Washington. It’s Olympia.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the state’s employment situation when your capital is worst in the country.
With an unemployment rate of 5% and a year-over-year average wage drop of just over 4%, Olympia is great for a trip, but not to settle down in.
2. Sierra Vista-Douglas, AZ
Employed population: 32,000
Unemployment rate: 5.3%
Annual mean wage: $46,830
Sierra Vista has some gorgeous scenic views and trails to check out if your an outdoorsman. If you’re looking for employment, look anywhere else in the state.
With the smallest employed population of our top ten, there aren’t a lot of big employers in the Sierra Vista area. Fort Huachuca, an army post in the city, offers another level of interest over the area, however.
3. Yuma, AZ
Employed population: 60,430
Unemployment rate: 15.7%
Annual mean wage: $38,500
No, that’s not a typo. The unemployment rate of Yuma stands at 15.7%. Not ideal.
The saddest part? That’s actually a decrease from Yuma’s 2017 figure: 17%.
Back in July 2016, the area actually had the highest unemployment rate of all metro areas with a whopping 24.3%.
Baby steps, Yuma. Baby steps.
4. Morgantown, WV
Employed population: 64,520
Unemployment rate: 4.2%
Annual mean wage: $43,550
If you’re a college kid looking to have a good time? Morgantown and West Virginia University is the place for you.
If you’re looking for a stable job and good income? Best stay away.
WVU is consistently ranked a top party school in the country, but is also known for its academic strength as well with many students majoring in engineering and business.
With Morgantown’s annual mean wage dropping by 7.4% over the last year, it’s just best if recent grads from the school try and find work somewhere else.
5. Watertown-Fort Drum, NY
Employed population: 39,940
Unemployment rate: 6.6%
Annual mean wage: $43,300
Watertown was a force to be reckoned with in the 19th century, with the city being a major industrial player.
Now, with an unemployment rate of 6.6%, the area isn’t exactly a hotspot for people looking for work.
6. Parkersburg-Vienna, WV
Employed population: 37,160
Unemployment rate: 5.6%
Annual mean wage: $38,670
The third-largest city in West Virginia doesn’t offer a wide variety of employment opportunities for those looking to settle in the Mountain State.
The unemployment rate hasn’t changed since 2017, standing at 5.6%, but only 37,160 people are employed in the area, a near 3,000 drop from last year.
7. Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, NY
Employed population: 547,750
Unemployment rate: 5.1%
Annual mean wage: $46,390
By far the largest metro area in our top 10, the Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls area still doesn’t serve as a great resource for job seekers.
Wage change in the area has dropped nearly 4% over the last year.
But hey, Niagara Falls is gorgeous and #BillsMafia is one of our nation’s most sacred treasures that should be protected at all costs.
8. Yakima, WA
Employed population: 89,640
Unemployment rate: 6.4%
Annual mean wage: $42,680
Located only three hours from Olympia, Yakima continues our trend of areas with beautiful scenery, but not so great jobs.
The area also has seen it’s unemployment rate decrease over the last year, but has also seen its average wage pay fall as well.
9. Merced, CA
Employed population: 69,200
Unemployment rate: 8.7%
Annual mean wage: $45,230
With the fifth-worst unemployment rate in the country, Merced offers little outside some nice Pueblo architecture and pretty countrysides.
Year-over-year wages have also fallen for the area as well.
10. Yuba City, CA
Employed population: 42,770
Unemployment rate: 7.3%
Annual mean wage: $47,370
Rounding out our bottom 10, Yuba City also has the 10th-worst unemployment rate in the country, too.
Similar to Yuma, the area has come a long way since the early 2010s when its unemployment rate was much higher.
For a list of the worst 50 job markets, check out this table below: