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Arkansas Ranks Among Top 10 States With Worst Working Conditions

A recent study by personal finance site MoneyRates.com underscores how dramatically working conditions can vary from state to state.
It's a cherished American trait to pull up stakes and move in pursuit of a better life. That pioneer spirit helps explain why the U.S. has one of the world's highest rates of in-country migration. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that nearly 36 million people, 11.7 percent of all Americans, moved between 2012 and 2013.

Some 20 percent of those moves employment-related. With millions of Americans still searching for work amid one of the slowest recoveries in U.S. history, that highlights an often neglected factor in finding a good job: where you live.

A recent study by personal finance site MoneyRates.com  underscores how dramatically working conditions can vary from state to state. The study analyzed a variety of factors, including average salary, employment rate, cost of living and workplace conditions. Of the report's 10 worst states for work, most were in either the Northeast or the Southeast, but there were some surprises. Here are the 10 worst, in descending order:

10. South Carolina. Low wages in the state, the study said, "are too low to be justified by the low cost of living." It also rated workplace conditions there below the norm.

9. New Jersey. Wages may be high in the Garden State, but the report notes that plus is "undermined by a very high cost of living." New Jersey's workplace conditions also rated below average, while unemployment remains high.

8. Arkansas. The state's low wages and high unemployment negate any advantages from its low cost of living.

7. Alabama. MoneyRates.com says Alabama slipped five places in its survey this year. The state's employees reportedly rated their workplace conditions as very low. It also was hampered by low wages and high unemployment data.

6. Alaska. The "last frontier" doesn't have a state income tax. But workers in Alaska, "are effectively taxed by a high cost of living," according to the report. State unemployment rates are above average, while workplace conditions were rated close to the bottom of the list.

5. Connecticut. Despite its reputation for affluence, Connecticut fell nine places in MoneyRates' survey. As with some other Northeastern states, higher incomes haven't kept up with a high cost of living. Unemployment in Connecticut is also high, while the state ranks only ahead of Mississippi in terms of working conditions.

4. Rhode Island. A high cost of living offsets any benefits from Rhode Island's higher-than-average income and low state income taxes. Its unemployment rate is also the worst of the 50 states, at more than 8 percent, while Rhode Island's work environment is rated as below average.

3. Mississippi. MoneyRates cites the state's low wages, high unemployment and the lowest-rated workplace conditions in putting it on the list.

2. New York. The Empire State has a higher-than-average income rate, but that figure also comes with a high cost of living, relatively high unemployment, high state income tax and a low-ranked work environment.

1. Hawaii. It may be a tropical paradise, but Hawaii has also been ranked as the worst state in the U.S. to make a living for all four years of the MoneyRates.com study. The Aloha State gets low grades for its work environment. But the primary problem, according to the report, is that "a cost of living more than 50 percent higher than the norm makes it very difficult to make a decent living, and wages in the state are not nearly high enough to compensate."

Curious about where your state ranks, in terms of overall working conditions? Click here to see the full list

(Bruce Kennedy, CBS MoneyWatch)

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