By

Explainer: Ten states with ridiculously low unemployment and why

  • Image: Waikiki
    Jewel Samad  /  AFP - Getty Images

    Every U.S. state experienced job losses during the recent downturn, but thanks to the right mix of industries, natural resources, and skilled workers, some states have a far lower unemployment rate than the 9.5 percent national average.

  • Iowa — Outperforming with a diverse economy plus agriculture

    Image: Farming in Iowa
    AP file

    Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 2.7 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: While commonly perceived as an agricultural hub, Iowa actually boasts a surprisingly diverse economy with jobs in the manufacturing, biotech, finance, insurance, and government services  —  all of which contribute to a strong hiring market. The S&P gave the state a Triple-A rating in 2009 (only one of nine to hold the position then).

    Education: 24.3 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Census Bureau

  • Minnesota — A state with manufacturing, raw materials, and high education

    Image: Minneapolis skyline
    Istock

    Unemployment Rate: 6.8 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 2.7 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Again, the theme here is diversity. Minnesota's economy is home to a variety of firms in the finished products, services, and raw materials sectors and 33 of the nation's top 1,000 publicly-traded firms have headquarters in the state.

    Education: 31.0 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Wyoming — Riding commodities, tourism, and perhaps its tax policies

    Image: Devil's Tower National Monument
    Mike Nelson  /  EPA

    Unemployment Rate: 6.7 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 2.8 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Mineral extraction, agriculture, and tourism drive Wyoming's largely rural economy. The tourism industry alone accounts for over $2 billion of the state's annual revenue. The state is also known for its unusual tax policies  —  no individual or corporate income tax and only a 4 percent sales tax on select items.

    Education: 23.4 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Kansas — Powered by agriculture, energy, and aerospace

    Image: Pat Legleiter harvests a field of winter wheat near Liebenthal, Kansas
    Steven Hausler  /  The Hays Daily News via AP

    Unemployment Rate: 6.5 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.0 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Kansas isn't the land of Dorothy anymore, although it is still a major grain producer and retains its agricultural roots. These days, the state is also a major oil and natural gas producer and is also a hub of the aerospace industry.

    Education: 28.8 percent of adult population have a Bachelor's degree or more. (Higher than national average.)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Hawaii — A tourism magnet with a large population of the affluent

    Image: Waikiki beach in Honolulu
    Jewel Samad  /  AFP - Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 6.3 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.2 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Tourism dominates this tax-heavy state while food and apparel exports play more minor roles (given the distance of the islands from all other land). Also, rich folks apparently love to camp out in Hawaii as much as they might like Florida (the state had the highest percentage of millionaires in the general population).

    Education: 29.2 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Vermont — Driven by agriculture and industries utilizing the state's highly educated population

    Image:
    Winslow Townson  /  AP

    Unemployment Rate: 6.0 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.5 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Farming (especially dairy production and logging) is the bread and butter of Vermont's economy, although manufacturing, insurance, tourism, and quarrying are also major players. Vermont's housing is also quite affordable, as the state ranks 17th in mortgage affordability nationwide.

    Education: 33.6 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • New Hampshire — Powered by agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and a highly educated population

    Image: Crawford Notch State Park in New Hampshire
    Robert F. Bukaty  /  AP

    Unemployment Rate: 5.8 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 3.7 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Another agricultural heavyweight (dairy products, cattle, and apples dominate on the list of products), New Hampshire also produces machinery, electric equipment, rubber, and plastic products. Due to its famous ski slopes, the state is also a tourist hub come winter. New Hampshire also doesn't have a state income or sales tax and boasts one of the nation's highest median salaries.

    Education: 32.5 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Higher than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • Nebraska — An agricultural and transport hub, with some diversity as well

    Image: Nebraska schoolchildren
    Larry W. Smith  /  Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 4.7 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 4.8 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Another state reliant on its agricultural sector, Nebraska also specializes in freight transport, telecommunications, manufacturing, information technology, and transportation. And, not to mention, it has the nation's third-wealthiest person amidst its GDP rank.

    Education: 27.5 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • South Dakota — Gets a big boost from government, but also has services and agriculture

    Image:  Mt. Rushmore
    Karen Bleier  /  AFP/Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 4.4 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 5.1 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: The service sector (especially retail, health, and finance firms) dominates South Dakota's economy, although government-related enterprises also form a large chunk of the GDP. Ellsworth Air Force Base is the second-largest single employer here. Agriculture also contributes heavily to the economy, but its influence is waning.

    Education: 25.0 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • North Dakota — Powered by agriculture and commodities

    Image: Fargo
    Daniel Barry  /  Getty Images

    Unemployment Rate: 3.6 percent

    Lower than U.S. rate by: 5.9 percentage points

    Major industries driving the economy: Agriculture, petroleum, food processing, and tourism dominate the nation's most job-friendly state.

    Education: 25.7 percent of the adult population has a Bachelor's degree or higher. (Lower than national average)

    Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

  • More from Business Insider

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 4.30%
$30K home equity loan FICO 4.99%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.36%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 11.04%
11.04%
Cash Back Cards 16.44%
16.46%
Rewards Cards 16.04%
16.05%
Source: Bankrate.com