Everyone has advice to give on how to get a job and what kind of job to get. Some advice is geographic: “Go West, young man.” Some is industry specific: “One word — plastics.” Some is biological: “Follow your nose.” Other advice is spiritual: “Follow your dream, your karma, your destiny.”

I thought I’d try my hand at this too. Instead of enjoying the delightful weather, I constructed a complex index based on three common sense factors and questionable data.

First, the factors:

• How much does the job pay?

• How fast are the average earnings growing?

• How fast is the number of jobs increasing?

Second, the data — these are embarrassing, but weak data do not seem to bother other advice givers:

• For rates of change, I used the simple percent change in values, unadjusted for inflation, between 2000 and 2013.

• All data are from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis for the states and the nation.

• Average earnings per job for 2013 are not the likely earnings of a person seeking employment with no experience.

• The past is no guarantee of future performance — think about oil prices and the boom/bust of that industry.

• All indices are questionable; rankings don’t tell you how close the competitors are.

Nonetheless, here is my advice in brief: If you are looking for a job, Indiana is the fourth worst state in which to do that. Only Missouri, Michigan, and Mississippi are worse. The oil states (North Dakota, Alaska, and Wyoming) were best, but times have changed. More likely places to look are Maryland, Virginia, and Texas.

If we throw out mining, because of the oil field turmoil and the likely problems for coal production, we find management of companies and enterprises as the best prospect nationally. But how are you going to walk in and become a manager if you don’t have experience? My data won’t help you.

On the national scene, the worst prospects are in retail trade, real estate, and accommodations and food services. Low wages, slow growth in wages and the number of jobs make those three unattractive options.

If you insist on staying in Indiana, the best bets are health care, professional and technical services, plus utilities. The last of these has the highest earnings per job in the state and a very fine rate of earnings growth, but a low rate of job growth. It might be tough to get a job in this sector unless you are very patient climbing the ladder.

As in the national case, Indiana’s worst jobs are in retail trade and real estate, but that does not mean every job in those fields is bad. Again experience and patience pay off. Add to that list arts, entertainment and recreation which offer low pay, weak job growth, and very slow earnings growth.

Although this advice is based on statistical evidence rather than thumb-sucking speculation, its value may not be worth the proverbial grain of salt.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Morton Marcus is an economist, author and speaker formerly at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He can be reached at mortonjmarcus@yahoo.com.


Senior Copy Editor

Jeanette is a journalist with The Times Media Co. who has worked as both a reporter and editor. She has a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois at Springfield.