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Looking to relocate? Here are top 7 states to move to for work

Taylor Nichols

Written By: Taylor Nichols

Published: 9/28/2022

Millions of people across the country reconsidered what they wanted out of life and their careers over the last three years. People have changed jobs, homes, cities, and states to pursue a more fulfilling life since lockdowns started in 2020.

Many Americans will continue to work from home. Still, others are returning to the office — or never left, such as healthcare workers. As we enter the "normal life with COVID" stage of the pandemic, many in-person employees may be taking their moment to decide if it's time for a change.

We compared job openings, the number of job seekers, and advertised salaries by state in June 2022 to help employees find the best options for relocating.

About the data

To find the number of unfilled jobs, we subtracted the number of job seekers by state from the number of jobs advertised in June 2022. Job openings and median advertised salary data come from Lightcast, an analytics company that tracks labor market information from job posting sites and other public data sources. The number of job seekers comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' unemployment numbers by state for June 2022. The Cost of Living Index highlights which states have a higher or lower cost of living compared to the national average of 100.

Minnesota

Unfilled Jobs

23,450

Median Advertised Salary

$45,696

Cost of Living Index

Medium

Colorado

Unfilled Jobs

15,782

Median Advertised Salary

$52,096

Cost of Living Index

Medium

Kansas

Unfilled Jobs

10,579

Median Advertised Salary

$41,664

Cost of Living Index

Low

District of Columbia

Unfilled Jobs

8,417

Median Advertised Salary

$79,232

Cost of Living Index

High

Virginia

Unfilled Jobs

8,387

Median Advertised Salary

$52,160

Cost of Living Index

Medium

Nebraska

Unfilled Jobs

5,930

Median Advertised Salary

$41,600

Cost of Living Index

Low

Indiana

Unfilled Jobs

5,412

Median Advertised Salary

$42,176

Cost of Living Index

Low


Sources: Lightcast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, & the Missouri Economic Research & Information Center

Top Seven States to Relocate to for Work
State Unfilled Jobs Median Advertised Salary Cost of Living
Minnesota 23,450 $45,696 Medium
Colorado 15,782 $52,096 Medium
Kansas 10,579 $41,664 Low
District of Columbia 8,417 $79,232 High
Virginia 8,387 $52,160 Medium
Nebraska 5,930 $41,600 Low
Indiana 5,412 $42,176 Low

Sources: Lightcast, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, & the Missouri Economic Research & Information Center

Minnesota

Unfilled Jobs: 23,450
Median Advertised Salary: $45,696
Cost of Living: 97.2 (National Average 100)

This summer has left Minnesota feeling the acute effects of the labor shortage, with 23,450 more open positions than job seekers in June. Employers advertised a median salary of $45,696. While on the low side, it still pairs well with a cost of living just below the national average. Based on numbers from MIT's living wage calculator, this salary is more than enough to live off of as a single person supporting themselves or two adults working, with or without children. However, it's lower than the living wage for a single-income family.

Saint Paul and Minneapolis were among some of the cities with the largest population decline last year. The state's housing market is beginning to cool, meaning buyers may be better positioned in the coming months than they would have been last year. Growing areas in the state include the smaller cities of Lakeville and Woodbury.

bar graph showing most job posting in Minnesota
bar graph showing most job posting in Minnesota
bar graph showing most job posting in Minnesota

Source: Lightcast

Colorado

Unfilled Jobs: 15,782
Median Advertised Salary: $52,096
Cost of Living: 102.4 (National Average 100)

Colorado is a unique case because some employers have left the state due to a new salary transparency law.

The state saw growth during COVID, gaining more than 27,000 new residents. Census data shows Colorado Springs, Aurora, Castle Rock, and Windsor saw the most growth from July 2020 to 2021.

In June 2022, the state had nearly 16,000 more jobs than people looking and advertised a higher median salary of $52,000 per year. Although Colorado does have a slightly higher cost of living than average, $52,000 is enough to live comfortably as a single person or part of a two-earner household, according to MIT's living wage calculator.

Colorado's largest need by far is in health care and social assistance jobs, which may be due in part to the sudden population growth during the pandemic. Jobs in administration and support and professional services are also in high demand.

bar graph showing most job posting in Colorado
bar graph showing most job posting in Colorado
bar graph showing most job posting in Colorado

Source: Lightcast

Kansas

Unfilled Jobs: 10,579
Median Advertised Salary: $41,664
Cost of Living: 85.4 (National Average 100)

A great option for those looking for less populated areas, Kansas' largest city is Wichita with a population of just under 400,000. If all job seekers were hired, Kansas would still need to fill more than 10,500 open positions. Employers are currently advertising a median salary of  $41,600 in one of the most affordable states in the country.

Kansas city's housing market is cooling but remains competitive. Reporting highlights the Topeka market is gaining, with many KC residents looking for homes in the area. Census data shows Olathe gained the most residents from July 2020 to 2021, followed by Lenexa.

bar graph showing most job posting in Kansas
bar graph showing most job posting in Kansas
bar graph showing most job posting in Kansas

Source: Lightcast

District of Columbia

Unfilled Jobs: 8,417
Median Advertised Salary: $79,232
Cost of Living: 158.8 (National Average 100)

The nation's capital is known for being densely populated with a high cost of living. However, census data shows D.C. also saw a big exodus during COVID, losing around 20,000 residents. The city was roughly 8,400 job seekers short of filling all open positions in June 2022. 

Employers are advertising a high median salary of just over $79,000 to match the high cost of living. The city's need for workers in professional, scientific, and technical services far outpaces any other labor shortages, which may represent a good opportunity for those in consulting, business, marketing, accounting, and other service areas.

The city's housing market has been cooling slowly, with reporters highlighting a slight dip in prices last month, although demand is still high. Prospective relocators would do well to keep an eye on housing costs in the area.

bar graph showing most job posting in the District of Columbia
bar graph showing most job posting in the District of Columbia
bar graph showing most job posting in the District of Columbia

Source: Lightcast

Virginia

Unfilled Jobs: 8,387
Median Advertised Salary: $52,160
Cost of Living: 102.7 (National Average 100)

Virginia's population grew by about 10,000 from July 2020 to 2021, but the state is still seeking to fill 8,387 more jobs than it has job seekers. Job postings in June 2022 advertised a higher median salary of $52,000 while residents enjoy a cost of living close to the national average.

This East Coast state is known for its beaches, mountains, and picturesque seasons. It's also home to a number of strong colleges and universities. Census data shows Chesapeake, Suffolk, Blacksburg, and Hampton all saw population growth last year, while Alexandria, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach were among those that lost residents.

bar graph showing most job posting in Virginia
bar graph showing most job posting in Virginia
bar graph showing most job posting in Virginia

Source: Lightcast

Nebraska

Unfilled Jobs: 5,930
Median Advertised Salary: $41,600
Cost of Living: 91.8 (National Average 100)

The Cornhusker State saw slight population growth from the summer of 2020 to 2021. Its largest city, Omaha, lost residents, while newcomers favored the state's capital of Lincoln and smaller towns like Kearney and Fremont.

The state is best known for its agriculture and is much more affordable than the national average. Job postings for the month of June show a deficit of nearly 6,000 workers. Although advertised salaries tend to be lower in the state, the median of $41,600 is enough to live comfortably as a single adult or one member of a two-earner household.

Nebraska's employment needs are focused in health care, social assistance, manufacturing, administration, and professional services.

bar graph showing most job posting in Nebraska
bar graph showing most job posting in Nebraska
bar graph showing most job posting in Nebraska

Source: Lightcast

Indiana

Unfilled Jobs: 5,412
Median Advertised Salary: $42,176
Cost of Living: 89.2 (National Average 100)

With a low cost of living and 5,412 more open jobs than job seekers, Indiana is also a great option for those looking to relocate.

The state gained more than 20,000 residents in the first year and a half of the pandemic, according to census data. Following national trends, its largest city, Indianapolis, saw a drop in population while smaller cities like Westfield, Fort Wayne, and Fishers gained new residents.

Jobs in June 2022 advertised a low median salary of $42,176, but the state's cost of living is also far below the national average.

bar graph showing most job posting in Indiana
bar graph showing most job posting in Indiana
bar graph showing most job posting in Indiana

Source: Lightcast

Methodology

We looked at the number of unemployed people by state in June 2022 from the BLS, which only counts those actively looking for work. We compared these numbers with the number of unique job postings by state from Lightcast in June 2022, excluding remote jobs.

We also created a Salary Index to compare with the Cost of Living Index based on the median advertised salaries for all 50 states in June 2022 from Lightcast data. We used that salary index to compare with cost of living from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center to show which states had a favorable cost of living to salary comparison. Results were limited to states with a difference of less than 5 between the Cost of Living and Salary Indexes.

Census data was used to look at changes in population at the state and city levels.

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