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The 10 Dumbest States in America

The Street logo The Street 24/05/2014 Tony Owusu
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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When writing an article ranking the "smartest" and "dumbest" states in the Union it is important to explain your methodology. This list is based on the level of education a certain percentage of the residents of each state achieves.

According to information compiled by the website infoplease.com, as of 2010 men with a BA make 60% more than their counterparts with a high school diploma -- $40,000 to $64,000 -- while women with BA's make 56.6% more than their counterparts with a lower level of education -- $30,000 to $47,000.

And the gulf is widening. Twenty years ago male college graduates only made 47.5% more than high school grads while female BA holders made 53% more.

For this reason there is some correlation between states with higher percentages of people with Bachelor's and advanced degrees also having fewer people living below the poverty line.

One would think that states with more colleges and universities per capita might do better on this list but that is not necessarily the case. Vermont -- number 8 on the smartest list -- has the most schools per capita with 1 university per 36,545.3 residents, while New Jersey -- number 6 on the smartest list -- has the second lowest number of schools per capita with 1 university per 526,764.8 residents.

Intuitively states offering better jobs will attract better educated residents. The correlation between states offering better opportunities and the number of college graduates residing there is strong. Maryland -- number 3 on the smartest list -- leads the nation in median household income at $70,004 while Mississippi and West Virginia -- numbers three and one respectively on the dumbest list -- are at the bottom of the median household income list.

Here is a list of the 10 "dumbest" states based on percentage of the population with Bachelor's degrees.

10. Tennessee 



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 23%

Median Household Income (2012): 42,764 (44th)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1709

Tennessee's economy is centered on textiles, livestock, and electrical power, jobs that do not require advanced educational degrees. The state has over 82,000 farms, 60% of which are used to raise cattle. Fortune 500 companies FedEx , Autozone  and International Paper call the state's largest city, Memphis, home, while Nashville is the hub of the country music recording industry. Despite this, Tennessee's 17.9% poverty rate ranks 39 in the country.


9. Oklahoma



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 22.7%

Median Household Income (2012): $44,312 (41st)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1689

Oklahoma's economy is driven by the energy industry, with aviation and food processing also offering employment opportunities in the state. Of the 1.7 million person strong labor force, 23% work in the public sector -- the leading employment opportunity in the state -- while the transportation and utilities sector accounted for another 16.4% of the jobs in the state. The American Airlines  global maintenance and engineering headquarters in Tulsa is the largest airline maintenance base in the world. Oklahoma's 17.2% poverty rate ranks 35th in the country.

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8. Indiana



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 22.5%

Median Household Income (2012): $46,974 (32nd)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1470

Indiana's economy is driven by manufacturing with the Calumet region representing the largest steel producing area in the U.S. The state's largest city, Indianapolis, is home to the international headquarters of pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly , while Evansville is home to the headquarters of Mead Johnson Nutrition . The state boasts the second highest number of biopharmaceutical related jobs in the country. Despite the strong biotech presence in pockets of the state, Indiana's economy rests on the shoulders of semi-skilled labor. The state's 15.6% poverty rate ranks in the bottom half of the U.S.

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7. Alabama



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 22%

Median Household Income (2012): $41,574 (47th)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1608

The majority of Alabama's workforce is in the public sector with Redstone Aresenal (25,373), the University of Alabama (18,750), Maxwell Air Force Base (12,280), the state itself (9,500) and the Mobile County Public School System (8,100) rounding out the top five employers in the state. RegionsFinancial Corporation , BBVA Compass and Superior Bancorp also call the Cotton State home. The state's median household income is the third lowest in the country and the poverty rate of 19% ranks 45th in the country.

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6. Nevada



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 21.8%

Median Household Income (2012): $49,760 (27th)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1454

While much of Nevada's economy is tied to the vice industry -- gambling and prostitution -- the state also relies on mining and cattle ranching as economic drivers. Billions of dollars in gold is mined in the state every year: 79% of all the gold mined in the country comes from Nevada, accounting for 8.9% of the world's production. While the public sector holds the top three employment opportunities in the state, Wynn Las Vegas , the Bellagio, MGM Grand , Aria Resort, Mandalay Bay and Caesars Palace make up most of the rest of the top ten. The state's 16.4% poverty rate ranks 32nd in the country.

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5. Louisiana



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 21.4%

Median Household Income (2012): $42,944 (43rd)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1655

Louisiana is the largest crawfish producer in the world, accounting for 90% of the world's supply. The seafood industry supplies 16,000 jobs to the state's residents. The state's location at the mouth of the Mississippi River Delta is central to its economy with the Port of South Louisiana being the largest shipping port in the Western Hemisphere by volume. Louisiana receives the fourth highest average of dollars from the federal government compared to how much is paid out in taxes at $1.35 per dollar taxed. Some 20% of residents live below the poverty line, ranking the state 49th in the country.

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4. Kentucky



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 21%

Median Household Income (2012): $41,724 (46th)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1741

Kentucky's agricultural and livestock industries are alive and well. The state ranks fifth in goat farming, eigth in beef cattle production and 14th in corn production. Six Fortune 500 companies, Humana , Yum Brands , Ashland , Omnicare , General Cable  and Kindred Healthcare , also call the Bluegrass state home. Kentucky ranks fourth in the country in the number of automobiles and trucks assembled in the state. The state's coal industry has taken a hit in recent years and the poverty rate of 19.4% is the fourth worst in the country.

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3. Mississippi



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 19.6%

Median Household Income (2012): $37,095 (50th)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1673

Mississippi is the state of a bygone era. Prior to the Civil War Mississippi's agricultural economy -- and reliance on slave labor -- made it the fifth wealthiest state in the country. However currently it is near the bottom in most economic and educational measures. Mississippi residents received $2.02 in federal spending for every dollar they paid in taxes. The state has the highest poverty rate in the country at 24.2%.

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2. Arkansas



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 18.9%

Median Household Income (2012): $40,112 (49th)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1697

Arkansas is home to four Fortune 500 companies including the world's largest retailer, Walmart . Former President Bill Clinton is also a native son of the state. The state ranks fourth in the country in lumber production thanks to the Arkansas Timberlands. The state has the second lowest cost of doing business according to a CNBC study with the 5th lowest cost of living in the country. However the state's 7.5% unemployment rate is high and the 19.8% poverty rate is was 48th in the nation.

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1. West Virginia



% of Population With Bachelor's Degrees: 
17.3%

Median Household Income (2012): $40,196 (48th)

Average SAT Score (2013): 1513

The "dumbest" state on our list has a median income that is the third lowest in the country and a poverty rate of 17.8%, or 38th in the country. Despite this, the city of Morgantown, home to West Virginia University, was ranked by Forbes as one of the 10 best small cities in which to do business in 2010. In an effort to attract businesses, the state's corporate income tax is set to be reduced to 6.5% from 8.5% this year. The state's once robust coal industry has taken a hit as the industry faces increased competition from other energy sources and tougher regulations. Despite this downturn, the state exported $2.9 billion worth of coal last year and the industry employs 30,000 West Virginians.

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