With the #MeToo movement gaining steam, women’s concerns have been in the national spotlight, including shoutouts during the Academy Awards. So it seems fitting to wonder: Is there a certain place where women can flourish?
It turns out there is: Minnesota.
That’s according to new research by WalletHub ranking the best and worst states for women. Minnesota won top honors, followed by Massachusetts and Vermont.
So why is this chilly North Star State such a mecca for female empowerment? Researchers at WalletHub came to these conclusions by analyzing local statistics on a variety of female-friendly factors, including women’s median incomes (adjusted for cost of living), high school graduation and employment rates, the number of women-owned businesses, life expectancy, homicide rates, and 17 other factors.
“Working women in Minnesota have the second-highest median earnings in the country—adjusted for cost of living—at $31,505 per year, and the sixth-lowest unemployment rate, at 3.2%,” says WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez. “This means that very few women are living in poverty, under 12%, which is the fifth-lowest percentage in the country.”
Taken altogether, it’s clear that Minnesota boasts a bundle of progressive policies and job opportunities where women can really get a leg up. And this is great not only for women, but for Minnesota’s real estate market, too.
“Any location where you have happy women—whose wages are aligned with their male peers and who are offered opportunities versus pushed down—is going to help real estate values,” says real estate agent Rachel Valentino. The reason: “Women nest, women invest in homes, women have plans and long-term dreams for their families.”
In other words, women prioritize homeownership—and they might even pick up and move if that’s what it takes to make a purchase and put down roots.
“The rising home prices and wage gap have made it harder and harder for women to buy homes,” says RentHop‘s data analyst Shane Lee. “And since Minnesota has such high female median earnings, we might see more and more women moving to Minnesota. This could potentially boost the residential sector here.”
Women lack support in traditional states
And the worst states for women? Louisiana, followed by Arkansas and Mississippi. So much for the South treating ladies well! In fact, experts say that this area’s more old-fashioned outlook might be the very thing holding women back.
“Louisiana, like a lot of its neighboring states that were also ranked low on this list, hasn’t evolved and modernized,” says real estate agent Cara Ameer. “Much of the population remains local versus people that have relocated there from other areas, which is not forcing much to change. People grew up with things being a certain way and have gotten used to the status quo.”
A plain old lack of jobs that are feasible for, or friendly to, women may play into this, too.
“The top industries in Louisiana are oil, natural gas, commercial fishing, chemicals, and agriculture, which tend to have more male-oriented jobs,” Ameer explains.
Minnesota, on the other hand, serves as the corporate headquarters for several Fortune 500 companies, including United Healthcare, Target, Best Buy, and 3M.
Combine that with this state’s progressive policies in terms of income equality and education, and it makes sense that Minnesota could become the #MeToo movement of real estate, drawing women in droves.
“Women are often the decision-makers when it comes to real estate,” agrees Ameer. “Even for married women who don’t work, if their husband is relocating for a job, where that location is can have a huge impact on the entire family. If the wife is not happy with the location, the relocation may ultimately be short-lived. I have seen this exact thing happen with customers I’ve worked with.”
Here’s a full rundown of the best and worst states for women.
Best states for women
- North Dakota
- New Hampshire
Worst states for women
- South Carolina
- West Virginia