These are the 10 least innovative states in the U.S.

Flickr/Steve SelwoodTennessee is among the least innovative states in the U.S.
  • Innovation is often centered in the U.S. in big cities located on the coasts, such as Silicon Valley and New York.
  • WalletHub recently compiled a ranking of the most innovative and least innovative states in the U.S., based on numerous metrics of human capital and innovation environment.
  • These are the top 10 least innovative states, ranked out of 51 spots to include Washington D.C.

The U.S. is often credited as one of the most innovative countries in the world, but that doesn’t mean its innovation and technological pursuits are divided equally around the country.

Innovative concepts and burgeoning tech often find their start in major cities like New York and San Francisco, while middle-of-the-country states are attempting to play catch-up.

Financial advisor website WalletHub recently compiled a list ranking innovation in each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It’s no surprise that the top 10 on the list include Midwest states that are long ignored by major tech companies in favour of metropolises that have historically attracted major tech companies and top tech talent.

WalletHub’s rankings are based on two dozen metrics divided into two categories: human capital and innovation environment.

Human capital comprises units like states’ share of STEM professionals, projected STEM job demand in 2020, and performance and participation in high school-level maths and science exams. Meanwhile, the innovation environment category includes metrics weighing each state’s share of companies that are technology-oriented, the level of research and development, the number of jobs in new companies, and each place’s tax friendliness.

These are the 10 least innovative states in the U.S., according to WalletHub:


10. Nebraska

Esme/ShutterstockOmaha, Nebraska.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 30.69 (out of 100-point scale)

Human Capital rank: 40 (out of 51 U.S states & D.C.)

Innovation Environment rank: 41 (out of 51 U.S states & D.C.)

Nebraska ranks third from the bottom in terms of lowest share of science and engineering graduates aged 25 and older.


9. South Dakota

SeaBear70/Wikimedia CommonsSioux Falls, South Dakota.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 30.26 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 45 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 40 (out of 51)

South Dakota was the state with the lowest share of technology companies, according to WalletHub.


8. Kentucky

Leigh Trail/ShutterstockLouisville, Kentucky.

bvcWalletHub State Innovation Index: 30.06 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 43 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 42 (out of 51)


7. Hawaii

Shutterstock/Filip CarmenHonolulu, Hawaii.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 29.72 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 42 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 44 (out of 51)

Hawaii is one of the states with the worst eighth grade maths and science performances.


6. North Dakota

Courtesy of Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitor’s BureauFargo, North Dakota.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 29.40 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 49 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 32 (out of 51)

The state ranks 50th for the lowest share of technology companies.


5. Tennessee

Sean Pavone/ShutterstockNashville, Tennessee.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 28.54 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 48 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 43 (out of 51)

Tennessee is the third-lowest state in terms of projected STEM job demand by the year 2020.


4. Iowa

f11photo/ShutterstockDes Moines, Iowa.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 28.11 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 46 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 46 (out of 51)

Iowa is in the bottom five for slowest average internet speed and lowest share of technology companies.


3. West Virginia

Jerry Pennington/ShutterstockCharleston, West Virginia.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 27.06 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 47 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 51 (out of 51)

West Virginia ranks in the bottom five in a number of categories, including: lowest venture capital funding per capita; lowest R&D spending per capita; and lowest share of STEM professionals.


2. Louisiana

f11photo/ShutterstockNew Orleans, Louisiana.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 21.89 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 50 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 49 (out of 51)

Louisiana is the second-lowest state for venture capital funding per capita. The state also ranks 49th for lowest R&D spending per capita and lowest share of STEM professionals.


1. Mississippi

Sean Pavone/ShutterstockJackson, Mississippi.

WalletHub State Innovation Index: 19.13 (out of 100)

Human Capital rank: 51 (out of 51)

Innovation Environment rank: 50 (out of 51)

Mississippi came in dead-last for the state with the lowest share of STEM professionals and the lowest projected STEM job demand by 2020. The state also came in at No. 51 for the lowest venture capital funding per capita, and the lowest share of science and engineering graduates 25 and older.

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