All Posts by Janice Friedman

Job Prospects Across the U.S.

We all want to have a job in a field that we love. And we all want to live comfortably doing it. But is that a realistic wish?

Four-year college degrees no longer carry the same weight as they used to. They’re like high school diplomas, with almost everyone now earning them. In fact, 20.2 million students were expected to attend U.S. colleges and universities in fall 2015. With all this competition, lucrative jobs are becoming harder and harder to land. And seasoned employees are feeling the same heat. Some are simply slipping on the rickety rungs of the corporate ladder.

But jobs are out there – you just might be looking in the wrong place. To uncover these gainful careers and their locations, we decided to analyze data from LinkedIn and Indeed. We focused our attention on competitiveness and availability. In the end, we were able to determine the most and least expensive states and the job fields with the most growth and opportunities. Explore the visuals below to see if you’re making the right choices when it comes to your career.

Which States Are Worth Living In?


Here’s the truth: While it’s possible to live like a king in some states, you might just live like a professional pauper in others. A good degree and career can be a major boost toward living your dream life, but it can also be easily offset by high living expenses.

Comparing annual income with the cost of goods and services in the U.S., we found that the most expensive states to live in are New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Texas, and California. Although each of these states is home to growing industries with promising job fields – biomedical, technology, and energy – it takes a higher salary for residents to maintain a comfortable lifestyle.

And if we look closely at the most expensive state – New York – New York City may be skewing the results for the state population. On top of having one of the highest income taxes in the country, the total cost of living in NYC is at least 68.8 percent higher than the national average. To put it into perspective, the state capital, Albany, costs consumers about 12 percent less (not accounting for rent or a mortgage).

On the other end of the spectrum is Mississippi, which has the lowest cost of living – 10.9 percent lower than the national average. According to the Tax Foundation, Mississippi is the most affordable state in the country because of a compensation differential. With low nominal incomes come lower costs of living. In fact, what you would get for $100 in some states gets you about $115 worth of goods in Mississippi.

The Value of a Good Job in a Good State

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We looked at the most and least expensive states across the U.S., but what do their job markets look like? Examining the number of available jobs in each state (x-axis) with their degrees-to-job ratio (y-axis), we were able to come up with a pretty telling visual. If you’re worried about finding a job within your degree field, this scatter plot should point you in the right direction.

Compared with other states, Colorado may have the best job market overall. With its high-scoring available jobs per capita and relatively low competition, graduates won’t have too much trouble landing a decent job here. In particular, Denver boasts a strong and diverse economy in many industries, such as bioscience, financial services, health care, and telecommunications.

However, graduates might want to think carefully about moving to Idaho, which scored extremely low in available jobs per capita and relatively high in competition.

If we just consider the state with the most available jobs per capita, Massachusetts leads the way. But with 114 higher education institutions and out-of-state students flocking there to attend school, competition here is a little higher.

And North Dakota has a much lower rate of job competitiveness, probably because there are only 30 colleges and universities located in the state. It does, however, have a slightly lower-than-average number of available jobs per capita.

Lesson learned: Just because a state has more jobs per capita doesn’t mean you’ll have less competition in your industry.

So Where’s the Work?


Recent college graduates are experiencing a 7.2 percent unemployment rate. And an even greater percentage (14.9) are underemployed. Is the job market really that bleak? According to our findings, available careers are out there – you just might have to look in another field.

For example, your best bet at landing a job would be in the communications field. With nearly 1.6 million positions currently available, occupations in this sector are expected to grow 4 percent from 2014 to 2024. And according to PayScale, the median salaries for top communications positions – with 10 or more years of experience – range from $72,400 to $140,000. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, on the other hand, found that the median annual salary for all communications positions was $53,530 in 2015.

The next career field to possibly offer the most employment is support, which has close to 1.5 million available jobs. Support encompasses call centers and help-desk services.

Conversely, a career in real estate may not be the path to follow. This field only has around 53,000 available jobs, followed by purchasing, which has just over 72,000 open positions.

Which Job Fields Are the Least Competitive?


If you’re still deciding on a degree, you may want to consider how many other people are following the same career path. Although the job situation is the best it’s been since before the recession, those with degrees still have a competitive market to contend with.

Finance may be the hardest field to enter successfully. With fewer than 0.2 jobs for every student and graduate, entry-level finance positions are few and far between – and for good reason. Job security in the industry has been relatively stable in the past year. Whereas the national unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in 2015, the finance industry only experienced an unemployment rate of 2.5 percent. And the pay is decent. A finance major can expect to earn a starting salary of $51,900.

The least competitive field is purchasing, which offers over 1.5 jobs for every graduate. Although this field has very few open positions – which might have to do with the merging of supply chains and supply management – there aren’t as many candidates vying for these positions. There is also a belief that this field is more of an occupation and less of a profession, which might have something to do with it. Recent graduates may feel that it’s beneath them or in an adverse direction to their pursuits. Currently, employment for buyers and purchasing agents is only expected to increase 2 percent by 2024, and the median annual wage is $59,620.

Moving and Changing Careers for a Better Future

Even though it’s been eight years, the U.S. is still recovering from the 2008 recession. And unfortunately, this is causing a lot of uncertainty when it comes to finding a good job. But some things can be done that make a difference – like relocating or changing a career field.

It might be more financially sound to consider a state with a lower cost of living or less competition, such as Mississippi or Colorado. Or you could choose a field with the most available jobs, such as communications. Even considering changing to a field with the least amount of competition – like purchasing – could help you out over time.


For the purposes of this study, available jobs were identified by career fields (taken from open job positions). The number of people were identified with a professional education by matching fields of study (taken from profile pages) of both people in the industry (alumni) as well as current students obtaining their degree. Because college graduates tend to live in the state they graduate from, locations for higher education schools were the basis for each person’s state of residence used to determine job field competitiveness.


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Millennial Math: A Cost Comparison Across Four Generations

Most of us have read books set in years past or heard stories from relatives that begin, “Back in my day …” But how does life today really differ from the days of the past? We dug up data and crunched the numbers in order to analyze the costs of events and everyday expenses – including getting married, heading to college, shopping for groceries, and buying a house – across the generations.

Who splurged the most on weddings? Who spent more on college tuition? And how much has changed when it comes to buying groceries and buying homes? Read on to discover how finances for every generation measure up.

Note: We considered four generations – the Greatest Generation (born 1901–1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Generation X (born 1965–1985), and Millennials (born 1978–1990). Generations’ birthdates often are loosely defined and even controversial, but we assigned each generation a precise birthdate window for research purposes.

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Today’s couples are taking their vows later in life. The Greatest Generation – a term coined by journalist Tom Brokaw to describe the people who endured the Great Depression and fought in World War II – tied the knot at a median age of 23 (men) and 20 (women). Millennials, on the other hand, are waiting until a median age of 28 (men) and 26 (women).

One potential reason? Money is tight for Millennials – the first generation in recent years to be poorer than their parents. Many are saddled with student loans and other debt, which could prompt them to move marriage to the back burner. After all, even saying “I do” costs much more today than it did during the first half of the 20th century: Millennial couples fork out nearly 273% more money for a wedding than couples from the Greatest Generation did.

millennial math

We looked at the cost of weddings (after adjusting currency for inflation) and the age of couples among the generations. Startlingly, the cost of a wedding for Baby Boomers was nearly triple that of a celebration for the Greatest Generation. However, each subsequent generation saw an increase of only a few thousand dollars.

Millennials spend more on weddings than any previous generation did. What does nearly $30,000 buy? The venue accounts for around half of the budget, followed by the engagement ring and wedding band (an average cost of nearly $10,000). As for the celebration itself, average catering cost per head averaged nearly $70 as of 2014.

Perhaps the price of a wedding is why Millennials prefer wedding gifts of cash as opposed to china and gravy boats. How can Millennials save on weddings? Some schedule ceremonies in the off-season, select non-traditional venues, and incorporate Pinterest-inspired DIY touches for everything from the cake to the decorations.

As for a couple’s age at the time of marriage, it steadily increased during each generation and peaked at Millennials (men age 28 and women age 26). Though they may be waiting longer to wed, the majority of millennials believe marriage is an important institution.

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For many Americans of every generation, heading off to college is a rite of passage – and one that has grown more costly over time. During the 1920s to the 1940s, tuition and fees averaged $1,429 per year; by the time Millennials attended, costs leapt to more than $5,000 (adjusted for inflation).

College attendance has increased steadily over the years: Only around 46% of Baby Boomers went to college, but about 61% of adult Millennials have attended. Perhaps understandably, they also have amassed a great deal of student debt – in fact, among Millennials, paying off student debt is the No. 1 financial concern. Some grads have turned to crowdfunding to help pay off staggering student debt, and some companies are even beginning to add student loan repayment as a job benefit.

millennial math

It’s not the stuff of legends – in the 1950s, visiting the grocery store with a pocketful of coins could yield the makings for a fairly decent dinner. When food prices are adjusted for inflation, though, the most striking takeaway is the high cost of grocery items in recent years. Simply between the time of Generation X (2000) and Millennials (2010), the price of round steak increased by more than 36%, the price of bread rose by almost 52%, and the cost of a dozen eggs skyrocketed by nearly 62%.

There is little doubt Americans are feeling the pinch at the supermarket. What’s causing these high prices? We can pin the blame on multiple factors, including drought (which affects crops), avian flu (which decreases egg production), and cattle shortage (which affects meat prices).

Millennials also eat at restaurants more than any other generation: Around 41% of Millennials say they eat out twice a week compared with 38% of Gen Xers and 37% of Baby Boomers. Though Millennials lack discretionary income, one theory is that they rely on restaurants as a spot to gather with friends, as many of them still live with parents or other family.

millennial math

For many people, owning a home is an integral part of the American Dream. But since the early 20th century, home prices have increased exponentially. Members of the Greatest Generation paid an average of $3,845 for a house in 1930; by 1980, the average cost for a Baby Boomer was $72,400. Fast-forward 20 more years, and the average home price cracked the $200,000 mark, and by 2010, it hit $284,000.How does behavior differ among the generations? One study revealed that while 8 out of 10 Baby Boomers own their own home, fewer than a quarter of 30-year-olds do. Why? Today, only 67% of Millennials live independently – which may adversely affect the housing market. Some point to heavy student loan debt among Millennials as a roadblock to purchasing a home; however, making consistent and on-time payments can actually increase credit scores. It’s possible Millennials are just late bloomers when it comes to to home ownership.


For better or for worse, life has certainly changed from the early 20th century to now. Costs of everything from houses to groceries have soared, and many people are making difficult decisions about their futures based on finances.

What does the future hold for our country? Millennials recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the largest generation. And while many may struggle, Millennials overall are optimistic about the future – and in a world that changes at a breakneck pace, a healthy dose of hope never hurts.


Four Generations of Congratulations, College Costs, and Food for Thought: All costs were converted to 2015 dollars for inflation.

For College Costs the data does not represent the average costs for the entire generation but rather provides a snapshot for viewers to understand what tuition and fees were, approximately, during a given year range.

For the Road to Homeownership, home prices are national averages and do not account for regional markets.

Food for Thought: Prices are annual national averages for the year stated on the graphic. The data provided is meant to provide the viewer with an idea of what food costs were for each generation but do not account for any local variation in price over the dates stated.



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Who Has Job Benefits?

Most people know down to the dime what to expect on their next paycheck. But many employees may not spend enough time thinking about benefits. After all, research shows that employees with access to better benefits packages experience higher job satisfaction, miss fewer workdays, and are less likely to resign.

We decided to tackle the topic in order to uncover which workers have better access to certain benefits based on various factors, including wage and employment status (full-time or part-time). We also ranked the benefits to determine which are most most commonly available and examined some recent trends in unemployment and health insurance. Explore the graphs below to see how your benefits stack up.

job benefitsThere’s no sugarcoating this fact: The more you earn, the better your benefits – period. Employees on the lowest end of the pay scale (drawing less than $8.10 per hour) are the least likely to receive paid sick leave, jury duty leave, holidays, and vacation time. The likelihood of receiving better benefits spikes for employees who earn more than $10.63 per hour and continues to increase from there. As states across the country follow New York’s lead in raising minimum wage, it will be interesting to see whether workers who receive pay hikes will see a correlating increase in benefits – or whether the numbers on the above graph will simply shift as a result.

Paid vacation and holidays are the most common benefits across the board, followed by paid jury duty, and then paid sick leave. Unfortunately, only 19% of employees who hover around minimum wage are eligible for paid sick leave, while 86% of highly paid ($37.02 per hour) workers do. In other words, for a well-compensated employee, an illness is inconvenient – but for a low-paid worker, it can be a financial disaster. Many in the U.S. – including the President – would like to see this remedied.

Now that we’ve examined how wages affect benefits, let’s take a look at how paid leave differs for employees who work part-time versus full-time.

job benefitsWhether by choice or by necessity, many Americans today hold down part-time jobs rather than typical eight-hour gigs. While some may enjoy the flexibility and extra time off, it’s clear that lower paychecks aren’t the only downfall of holding a part-time job. While about 90% of full-time workers enjoy paid vacation and holiday time, fewer than half of part-time employees get the same benefits. Roughly three times more full-timers get paid sick leave, and nearly twice as many can show up for jury duty without forgoing that week’s wages.

Sometimes one part-time job isn’t enough to make ends meet: That’s probably why more than a million Americans hold down multiple part-time jobs, which, cobbled together, can amount to full-time hours or even more – however, these people don’t have access to benefits that full-time workers have.

Employment status is a hot topic in this day and age: Some workers – including part-timers, freelancers, and independent contractors – feel employers take advantage of vague laws to avoid forking out full-fledged benefits. As a result, many people are pushing for change.

Next, let’s take a look at the U.S. unemployment rate and the rate of uninsured Americans.

More Benefits

job benefitsSince President Obama took office in 2009 – in the middle of a major recession – nearly 8.4 million jobs have been added and the number of job openings has doubled (to a record-breaking 5.7 million). The steadily declining rate of unemployment means that jobwise, our country is in the best shape in decades.

On a similarly optimistic note, nearly 15 million fewer people lack health insurance now than before Obama became president. And, as evidenced on the chart, the President’s Affordable Care Act spelled good news for uninsured Americans: As implementation of the health insurance reform expanded and open enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace began, 2013 showed a sharp drop in people lacking health coverage.

We’ve already looked at some key benefits, including different types of paid leave, but which other types of benefits do employers offer? And which are most and least common?

job benefitsAvailable to nearly 85% of workers, the most common benefit we found was unpaid family leave. This policy allows eligible employees to take leave for family or medical issues without losing their jobs. Next on our list comes the four benefits we examined earlier: paid holidays and vacations (both available to about 76% of workers), paid jury duty leave (almost 68%), and paid sick leave (nearly 61%).

On the other end of the spectrum, it appears only a select few employers provide certain optional benefits: Around 5% offer profit-sharing bonuses, flexible workplaces (dropping the 9-to-5 requirement in favor of letting employees set their own schedules), and subsidized commuting. And slightly fewer than 10% offer child care assistance and paid family leave.

When it comes to benefits, how do unions come into play? Next, we examined the impact they have.

job benefitsWhen it comes to common paid benefits – holidays, vacation, jury duty leave, and sick leave – significantly more union workers receive benefits than nonunion members: specifically, nearly 16% more receive paid holidays, nearly 15% more receive paid vacation, nearly 29% more receive paid jury duty, and slightly more than 16% more receive paid sick leave. Union employees in the private sector also pay a lesser share of medical premiums, and they also command higher median wages.


Every day, workers are faced with difficult decisions: Would you risk a day (or more) without pay in order to stay home with the flu, obey a jury summons, or care for a sick child? In a perfect situation, every worker would receive an adequate salary and benefits in order to thrive. In reality, if you’re a full-time employee earning over $37.02 per hour, you are much more likely to have access to more benefits than a part-time, low-paid worker.

Employers are only obligated to provide the benefits mandated by law – for instance, time off to serve in the military, vote, or serve on a jury – but offering the bare minimum isn’t the best way to stay competitive. (Some savvy companies even dazzle employees with free snacks.) With the dropping unemployment rate and uninsured rate, the country’s outlook appears positive. Let’s watch and see whether the upswing translates into greater availability of benefits for all workers.


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CEO Origins: Analyzing the Career Genesis of the Top 100 CEOs

It’s the ultimate American success story: An entry-level employee works hard, ascends the corporate ladder, and eventually goes on to become a CEO. We decided to dig into the pasts of today’s CEOs to discover more details about these triumphant tales. How many CEOs actually got their start at the company they now helm? How old were these leaders when they first launched their careers? And which companies gave a start to multiple future CEOs? Check out the infographics below to find out.
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The Early Years of CEOs

We investigated CEOs’ career beginnings to determine how their entry-level professional jobs (as opposed to typical teenage summer jobs) correlate with their current CEO positions. According to our data, around six out of 10 CEOs started at a different company from the one they now lead, and slightly more than three in 10 got their first job at their current company. Almost seven out of 10 began their career in the same field as they’re currently in, while slightly more than three out of 10 started in a different field.

When it comes to age, the early to mid twenties are by far the most common time for CEOs to launch their careers. Nearly a quarter of CEOs held their first professional position at the age of 22 – frequently the age at which people who began college after high school graduate with a four-year degree. Very few were teenage wunderkinds, and very few were 28 or older.

Who are the CEO success stories who had their humble beginnings at the same company they went on to lead? Walmart CEO Doug McMillon was once an assistant manager; Rodney McMullen worked as a stock clerk at The Kroger Company before becoming CEO; and Muhtar Kent, CEO of Coca-Cola, got his start as a truck driver for the company.

Find applications to work at Walmart, Kroger and Coca Cola here:

Walmart job application:

Kroger job application:

Coca Cola application:


Top CEOs by State

Fortune 500 Companies are certainly not distributed equally around the country – in fact, almost 44% of the companies have headquarters in the top five states. California is home to the highest number of Fortune 500 CEOs – no surprise, as it’s a hub for technology and entertainment. Closely following is Texas: The thriving oil industry means the the Lone Star State is a hotspot for large energy firms, which run the gamut from mining to equipment, pipeline to transport. Illinois (a hub for food production and agriculture) and New York (the nerve center for financial services – think Wall Street – as well as telecommunications) also rank high on the list.

CEO Origins

In general, the Northeast and Southeast house more than their share of Fortune 500 CEOs. Aside from California, Washington state is the only western state to make the list. Twelve states actually have no Fortune 500 companies, including Montana, Wyoming, and Alaska in the West, as well as Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine in the East. Why? Simply put, company leaders tend to gravitate to cities with major socioeconomic presence.


Companies Where at Least Two CEOs Launched Careers

Of all the companies we looked at, Arthur Andersen had the highest number of employees–turned CEOs. Three employees of the huge accounting firm went on to become CEOs of other companies: DirecTV, Halliburton, and UnitedHealth Group.

Procter & Gamble’s current CEO A.G. Lafley joined the company shortly after completing his M.B.A. Another Procter & Gamble employee, Meg Whitman, went on to become CEO of Hewlett-Packard.

IBM and Goldman Sachs both hired two employees apiece who went on to become CEOs of other firms. General Electric and Dow Chemical also each gave a start to two future CEOs, including one apiece who went on to lead the very companies they started at.

Some employees find a unique way to break into a certain company. For instance, when current Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar worked for Arthur Andersen, his first client was none other than Halliburton.

Rising to the Top

Our investigation revealed some interesting findings. While some CEOs do go on to lead the company they start at, more than 60% go on to lead a different company. Nearly 70% stay in the same field.

People interested in working for Fortune 500 Companies will have the best luck in states including California, Texas, New York, and Illinois, which are home to the most of these firms. And certain companies (spanning various industries) reveal a tendency for producing CEOs.

While no tried-and-true formula exists, some experts suggest a solid education, varied career experience (for instance, a background in consulting), and specific strengths including a high level of ambition and excellent communication skills are the building blocks to becoming a CEO.

As the above information reveals, opportunities for promotion exist in major companies. And for people eager to ascend the corporate ladder, it can’t hurt to examine the career paths of those who did just that.


We retrieved a ranking of the Fortune 100 companies from the top 100 companies in’s Fortune 500 ranking. We then determined company CEOs from public information and gathered information about the career genesis of Fortune 100 CEOs through a variety of sources, as detailed in this Google document.

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