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What States Have the Lowest Unemployment Rates?

North Dakota stamp

If you’ve been struggling to find a new job, get that first job out of college or get back to work, perhaps it’s a change of location you need. The unemployment rate is not equal across the states, and for all the tough economic news of the past several years, things aren’t all that bad in certain places.

(These statistics are provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The most recent numbers for states are from the end of 2012 and are based on the percentage of each state’s available labor force.)

North Dakota

The state in our union with the lowest percentage of its labor force out of work is North Dakota, which takes the number one spot with a very low unemployment rate of 3.2 percent. Jobs are plentiful in North Dakota largely because of a recent oil boom. Other industries boosting the economy there include agriculture, food processing and tourism. Yes, even tourism. It seems like North Dakota might be a well-kept secret for job seekers.


Nebraska is a close second to North Dakota when it comes to keeping residents employed. The unemployment rate for this Great Plains state is 3.8 percent. Another agricultural economy fuels this state, but there’s also a diversity of jobs available there including telecommunications, freight transport, manufacturing, information technology and transportation. Warren Buffet is the third-wealthiest person in the U.S., and he calls Nebraska home. Perhaps he knows what he’s doing.

South Dakota

Another Dakota makes the list, with an unemployment rate of just 4.3 percent. South Dakota gets a large part of its state income from government enterprises, but with no budget deficit, they must have other things going for them as well. There are opportunities in South Dakota to work in the service sector, agriculture and tourism. The state is gorgeous and great for people who love the outdoors. There could be a job waiting for you there.

Vermont and Wyoming

The number four spot is shared by two states with the tiny unemployment rate—compared to the new national average of 7.7—of 4.9. It should be no surprise that farming, mainly dairy production and logging, is the main driver of Vermont’s economy. Vermont also has jobs in manufacturing, insurance, tourism and quarrying.

Agriculture is also a big part of Wyoming’s rural economy. The Cowboy State also gets a lot of help from its tourism industry.

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