High unemployment rates can cause more damage to an economy than you may realize. When the unemployment rates rise, many people begin relocating to areas with more readily-available jobs. Unattached singles are especially prone to moving, but if jobs don't become more plentiful in major cities, even married couples with children think about hitting the road. (More than just crunching numbers, this career blends detective work with trouble shooting. Read on to find out why Accounting Is Not Just For Nerds Anymore.)

State by State
Rural areas and small towns often have some of the lowest unemployment rates in the U.S. Wyoming, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota and New Hampshire report the lowest rural employment rates, although rural areas have also been hit by the recession.
Among states, South Dakota had the lowest jobless rate at 3% this year. Wyoming came in second (3.1%), followed by North Dakota (3.2%), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

BusinessWeek magazine lauded Bismarck, ND, in August for its 3.6% unemployment rate, the lowest in the country. The city, the magazine noted, is blessed with sizable government employment, four colleges and a booming wind energy business. However, low unemployment in rural towns can hide the fact that many rural natives are moving out due to lack of opportunities.

Before You Start Packing
If you're considering moving to a small town, think about its prospects for future employment growth as well as its quality of life. With that in mind, the following list ranks some of the best small town and rural places to live, based on prospects for future job growth and quality life issues, including education, crime rate, recreation and other factors.

  1. Louisville, Colorado - The town of 18,800 at the RockyMountain foothills impresses visitors with its historic downtown, summer street fairs and proximity to ski resorts and mountain trails. High tech, energy and health care industries keep unemployment down.

  2. Benton City, Washington - The area in Eastern Washington (pop 2,800) has some of the highest projected job growth in the country, and is one of the most educated rural areas in the nation.

  3. Chanhassen, Minnesota - An abundance of lakes and parks, a large arboretum and winter sports offer plenty to do, and unemployment is well under the national average.

  4. Papillion, Nebraska - Unemployment is just 4.5%, and crime is also low. The town is in the middle of a downtown revitalization, which includes building a performance arts center and AAA baseball stadium.

  5. Middleton, Wisconsin - This city boasts a stable economy, excellent schools and a large network of parks, bike paths and trails. A mixed use community inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright and development for upscale stores and restaurants are underway.

  6. Greenacres, Washington - With a population of 7,112, it's a great place for families with children, has good public schools, large population of college-educated adults, and a high homeownership rate.

  7. Horse Creek, Wyoming - The unincorporated area in South Eastern Wyoming has a very low crime rate and is an easy drive to Cheyenne and Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming.

  8. Coeur d'Alene, Idaho (Mica and RockfordBay) - The rural area around Coeur d'Alene boasts great fishing, wonderful scenery and a job market with strong potential.

Everybody has an opinion on the best rural places to live and the locations with the best job prospects, but lists like these can be a great starting point when planning your new home. Keep in mind that unemployment opportunities change as business close, and rural areas are not immune to the recession. (The misery index measures a combination of unemployment and inflation, but what does it mean for your finances? Find out in The Misery Index: Measuring Your Misfortune.)

Related Articles
  1. Economics

    Understanding Income Inequality

    Income inequality refers to the uneven distribution of income across a single economy.
  2. Investing Basics

    What Does Plain Vanilla Mean?

    Plain vanilla is a term used in investing to describe the most basic types of financial instruments.
  3. Options & Futures

    Pick 401(k) Assets Like A Pro

    Professionals choose the options available to you in your plan, making your decisions easier.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    Use Options Data To Predict Stock Market Direction

    Options market trading data can provide important insights about the direction of stocks and the overall market. Here’s how to track it.
  5. Economics

    Is the U.S. Economy Ready for Liftoff?

    The Fed continues to delay normalizing rates, citing inflation concerns and “global economic and financial developments” in explaining its rationale.
  6. Investing News

    Wednesday Intel: Jobs, Manufacturing and Oil

    Today's economic data relates to employment levels, industrial production and crude oil.
  7. Home & Auto

    How Much Money Do You Need to Live in NYC?

    Learn how much money you need to meet basic expenses in New York City as a student, as a professional and as an unemployed job seeker.
  8. Investing

    The Best Strategies to Manage Your Stock Options

    We look at strategies to help manage taxes and the exercise of incentive and non-qualified stock options.
  9. Investing Basics

    Retirement Planning Using Long-Dated Options

    Retirement planning using high-risk options? It is possible, and studies confirm better yields than conventional methods. Here’s how.
  10. Investing Basics

    Understanding Vega

    In options trading, vega represents the amount option prices are expected to change in response to a change in the underlying asset’s implied volatility.
  1. How do hedge funds use equity options?

    With the growth in the size and number of hedge funds over the past decade, the interest in how these funds go about generating ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Can mutual funds invest in options and futures?

    Mutual funds invest in not only stocks and fixed-income securities but also options and futures. There exists a separate ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How does a forward contract differ from a call option?

    Forward contracts and call options are different financial instruments that allow two parties to purchase or sell assets ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What are some of the drawbacks of industrialization?

    In economic history, industrialization is the social and economic transformation of the human group from an agrarian society ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What economic indicators are important to consider when investing in the retail sector?

    The unemployment rate and Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) rank as two of the most important economic indicators to consider ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What are the main risks associated with trading derivatives?

    The primary risks associated with trading derivatives are market, counterparty, liquidity and interconnection risks. Derivatives ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Purchasing Power

    The value of a currency expressed in terms of the amount of goods or services that one unit of money can buy. Purchasing ...
  2. Real Estate Investment Trust - REIT

    A REIT is a type of security that invests in real estate through property or mortgages and often trades on major exchanges ...
  3. Section 1231 Property

    A tax term relating to depreciable business property that has been held for over a year. Section 1231 property includes buildings, ...
  4. Term Deposit

    A deposit held at a financial institution that has a fixed term, and guarantees return of principal.
  5. Zero-Sum Game

    A situation in which one person’s gain is equivalent to another’s loss, so that the net change in wealth or benefit is zero. ...
  6. Capitalization Rate

    The rate of return on a real estate investment property based on the income that the property is expected to generate.
Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!