Last night was the State of the Union address, and notwithstanding everything else that's happening in America, it comes at a time when unemployment is at a record low.
But some job markets are better than others. Over at Yahoo Finance, associate editor Adriana Belmonte dug through data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Projections Managing Partnership to figure out some of the fastest-growing jobs in each state, with a focus on the ones at the top of the list.
Starting with that excellent work, there are some big takeaways that can give you a useful snapshot of how the U.S. economy is growing, and where it's headed:
- Blue collar jobs were the biggest gainers, especially in construction and energey related fields.
- Several positions topped the chart in multiple states, reflecting industry, regulatory, and cultural shifts
- A few positions are simply more difficult to explain or replicate. I'm especially interested in the story behind the top job in Georgia (click here or just search down for the word "Georgia").
Here's the full list. Since the top jobs were the same in several states, we'll rank these by job title, not by state.
1. Solar panel installers
These jobs are also known as photovoltaic installers (or PV installers), and they're the fastest growing positions in eight states: California, Hawaii, New Mexico, Florida, North Carolina, Missouri, Minnesota, and New Jersey.
At least in some of these states (New Jersey in particular, since I live here and know), this is at least party driven by government rebates for people who are willing to install solar panels.
Moreover, given the large populations of those states, the impact of this position is tough to overstate. About 89 million people live in those states, out of about 312 million overall.
Average pay on these jobs: about $18.98 per hour, which works out to $39,490 per year according to Yahoo.
These are the fastest-growing jobs in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and Massachusetts. The median salary is a lot higher than for solar panel installers, as perhaps you might imagine: $84,060.
As the BLS puts it, these are people who "develop or apply mathematical or statistical theory and methods to collect, organize, interpret, and summarize numerical data to provide usable information."
It's hard to draw specific conclusions, but the rise in data-driven decision making could be making an impact here, although it's hard to say what it is about these four states that would make the statistician job outlook so healthy compared to elsewhere.
3. Wind turbine technicians
Another green energy related job, like solar panel installers. This is the fastest growing position in Texas, Colorado, Nebraska, and Iowa, which lo and behold have big wind turbine industries.
Hourly wage works out to $25.91, according to the BLS.
4. Derrick operator
Hold that thought on green energy, because good old fashioned carbon fuels rank pretty high, too. Derrick operators were the fastest-growing jobs in North Dakota and Oklahoma, which is probably no big surprise given the industries there.
Median annual salary: about $46,140 according to Yahoo's review of the data.
5. Biomedical engineer
Median wage for this job, which was the fastest growing in Louisiana and Maine, was $88,040 according to BLS.
It's one of the few jobs on the list requiring at least a college degree, probably a graduate level one, too.
6. Home health aide
This was the fastest growing job in the neighboring states of Delaware and Pennsylvania. Health care jobs are growing in general, so not a big surprise.
7. Still machine operator & tender
Fun fact: I once worked on an assembly line at a factory in Rhode Island, and these kinds of manufacturing jobs are still growing there and in Vermont. Still machine operators work more in chemical process related jobs of course.
8. Aerospace engineer and aircraft assembler
Not the same job, but the same industry, and leading job growth in Connecticut and Alabama, respectively.
The rest of the rest
The remaining 23 jobs topped the list in only one state each, so it's a bit harder to gauge trends. In some cases, they seem very locally oriented -- perhaps the burgeoning film industry in Georgia has to do with why "costume attendants" were the fastest growing job in that state.
In Virginia? Information security analysts saw the most growth, which seems plausible considering the CIA and other government agencies are there. But Maryland saw the greatest growth for desk clerks. So go figure.
The gambling industry saw high job growth in New York, and software developers saw job growth in South Dakota. In Indiana? Prosthodontists, which is the area of dentistry involved in making dental prosthetics.
Beyond that, animal trainers are big in Oregon, cargo and freight agents topped the list in New Hampshire, and credit counselors saw the most job growth in Michigan.
Here are the remaining jobs and the states where they ranked highest for growth:
- Tennessee: dietetic technician
- South Carolina: dredge operator
- Nevada: electric equipment assembler
- Idaho: exhibit designer
- Wyoming: extraction worker
- Alaska: Farmworker & laborer
- Virginia: information security analyst
- Washington: mobile home installer
- West Virginia: nuclear medicine technologist
- Kansas: oil/gas/mining service operator
- Arizona: patternmaker
- Montana: purchasing manager
- Arkansas: rail car repairer
- Utah: roofer
- Mississippi: tool programmer