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Dontcha know? North Dakota has the most job opportunities, per capita, in the country.

Last month, we showed you the most financially happy states when we released the Happiness Index. Now, we’re bringing you this inaugural edition of the Job Opportunity Index to show you where the jobs are.

According to the Job Opportunity Index, the jobs are not  in the most populous states such as New York and California but are in the less densely populated middle of America. North Dakota, the 3rd least populous state in the U.S., took the top spot on the Index while New York came in at #35, Illinois ranked #36, and California landed at #44.

The Job Opportunity Index, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia, looked at two factors in determining which states offer the greatest employment opportunity: available jobs in a given state (relative to state population), and the unemployment rate in each state. 

To estimate the number of available jobs per state, MainStreet partnered with, one of the most comprehensive job search sites on the web. aggregates millions of job postings from thousands of web sites and serves more than 12 million job seekers a month.

In the face of a rising national unemployment rate, the Job Opportunity Index illustrates that companies are, in fact, hiring and points to the states which represent  the best markets for job hunters.

“The most important thing to know is that there are jobs out there,” says Paul Forster, CEO and co-founder of “Even though there may be no net growth in jobs through the economy, companies are always looking to replace people who have left. People should remain optimistic, because there are jobs available as you’ll see from any search on”

But, not all job markets are created equal.

North Dakota finished first with the 10th highest number of job opportunities in the nation and the lowest unemployment rate in the U.S.  Wyoming  (#2) and Virginia (#3), also featuring high numbers of opportunities and low unemployment,  followed closely behind. (Given that our Happiness Index suggested that Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas are the most financially happy states, we here at MainStreet won't be surprised if there is a population surge in the heartland!)

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Meanwhile, Michigan, due to the troubled auto industry and continuing layoffs, was at the bottom of the list, preceded by Oregon (#50) and Indiana (#49).

One metropolitan area, the nation’s capital and surrounding states, represented mixed and interesting results.  Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland have the highest numbers of available jobs but, while Virginia (#3) and Maryland (#5) finished close to the top of the Index, Washington D.C. finished in the middle at #22. Washington D.C., even with the largest number of job openings per capita by far – thanks, in part, to the large volume of government jobs the region enjoys – was weighed down on the Index by one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.

For a deeper analysis into a comparison of the country’s largest national metro areas showing the most job opportunities, take a look at Indeed’s latest job trends heat map.

See the chart below (and our accompanying Job Opportunity Slideshow with images of the 10 worst and the 10 best states) for the full breakdown of the Job Opportunity Index and be sure to check back next month for an update.

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