Iowa State: Population, Rankings, and Facts

#33 in Overall Ranking out of 50 in 2021

This place may be known for corn, the State Fair, and the Iowa caucuses, but there is more to it than meets the eye. The rolling hills and farms are juxtaposed with sprawling cities and growing industries like biotech, farming, food processing, and insurance. Check out more facts and history about this region below.

Updated: April 20, 2021
  • Area
    55,000 sq. mi.
  • Capital
    Des Moines
  • Population
  • Income
  • Home Value
  • Crime
  • Unemployment
  • Education
  • Medicine
  • Poverty
  • Environment
  • Infrastructure

Iowa State is a landlocked region that once belonged to the French Louisiana Territory. It was the 29th addition to the Union, back on December 27, 1846.

The area has a relatively steady continental climate, although the weather can get extreme in the summer and winter. It is also known for its vast expanses of farmland and lots of corn. This place was once a land of agricultural prosperity, and remnants of that still present today. However, the modern economy is a mix of farming and manufacturing, among other industries.

This is a place with a high percentage of white residents, and the majority of them belong to some religion or church, usually Protestant. That said, most people live in the urban centers rather than the rural towns; this is a result of rural flight, which many Midwestern states deal with.

In terms of geography, this region contains bedrock from the Cretaceous period, dating back for millennia. The land is covered in natural lakes, meadows, and pastureland, making it a good spot for agricultural business. Some of the most popular include Spirit Lake and the East and West Okoboji Lakes.

During the Civil War, residents in this area were mainly in favor of Abraham Lincoln and the Union. While the land didn’t host any battles or war events, Iowans sent war supplies to the soldiers.

How We Figured Out Which Were the Best States to Live In

Before moving on to more information about this area, it’s important to describe how we found the best places to live in the U.S. It was crucial to look at the key metrics that families and individuals consider when relocating. These included things like educational opportunities, the job market, crime, poverty, and health outcomes. Some national resources were also used, including information from the U.S. Department of Labor, the FBI, the EPA, and government services.

Iowa Rankings

  • Population
    Data: 3,155,070

    The population is over 3 million, and most residents live in the cities. That said, farms still populate the land; there are about 80,000 of them in the entire region. The area may be small, but it offers a good population density for families seeking a new home.

  • Median Income
    Income in $
    Data: $58,570

    The economy is one of the best for doing business, and not just in terms of agriculture. Many people work in the manufacturing or finance sectors, and government jobs are also popular. Some national services operate out of here, such as the American Medical Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

  • Home Value
    Home Value
    Data: 158,930

    This region is one of the top places to live in the country, particularly Des Moines. While the home value is slightly higher than the IA average, the commutes are short, and there is less crime. There are over 1.2 million homes here, and the average city property value is between $115,000 and $230,000.

  • Unemployment Rate
    Data: 3.7%

    The Iowa unemployment rate is 3.7%, which is very good compared to the entire country. Also, the percentage of people without a job has been steadily decreasing. Again, agricultural jobs are plummeting thanks to rural flight. The unemployment rate in IA decreased by 0.2% at the beginning of 2021.

  • Poverty
    Data: 11.0%

    With the IA sales tax of 6% and adding property tax of 1.50%, it can be challenging for more impoverished communities to achieve decent living conditions. The poorest places in the region are Keokuk, Centerville, and Maquoketa. Ethnic minorities are the most likely to struggle to make ends meet.

  • Education
    Data: 27.7%

    Over a quarter of the residents have a Bachelor's degree or higher. There are 60 colleges and universities here, including Iowa State University, one of three public institutions. The number of college-educated people is less than the national average and many other states, perhaps due to the focus on agriculture.

  • Medicine
    Health Outcomes: 15

    Nearly 10% of residents don’t have insurance, which is bad news, especially in a country like the U.S. Some of the best hospitals here are in Iowa City and Des Moines. Over 720,000 people are on Medicaid, including over 230,000 children. The leading causes of death in IA are heart disease, cancer, and Chronic Lower Respiratory

  • Crime Rate
    Violent Crime: 8,410

    According to the census statistics, this region is considered one of the safest places to live in the U.S. Murders are markedly lower here than elsewhere in the country. The most common incidents are property crime and larceny-theft. The murder rate is 1.9 per 100,000 residents, which is good compared to the national figures.

  • Natural Environment
    Air: 38

    Given its wide expanses of land, some might think this area would have a higher environmental rating. Perhaps due to rural flight and more manufacturing jobs, this region ranks #36 in terms of clean air, drinking water, and pesticide use. Despite its agricultural roots, IA underperforms in terms of air and water quality compared to other states.

  • Infrastructure
    Poor Roads: 7.5%

    The area is a poor performer in terms of road conditions and infrastructure. Tax dollars should go towards restructuring the highways and stabilizing bridges, nearly a fifth of which are deficient. The mean travel time to work is 19.4 minutes, which is one of the best out of all the states.

Iowa Facts

  • The official state flower is the wild rose.
  • The Eastern Goldfinch is the state bird.
  • The capital of the state is Des Moines, and the Iowa abbreviation is IA.
  • The state fair has been a running event since 1854.
  • There are dozens of IA state parks, including Pikes Peak State Park, Ledges State Park, and Backbone State Park.
  • The IA flag looks like the French one because it belonged to the French Louisiana Territory. A bald eagle placed in the center of the flag holds a banner that says, “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
  • Its name originates from the Iowa River, named by the Ioway People, and the nickname is the Hawkeye State.
  • The population is over 90% white, 3.7% Black or African American, and 2.4% Asian.
  • More than half of all Iowans are Protestant (60%).
  • It has 10 official forests covering over 43,000 acres.
  • Some famous people from here include Ashton Kutcher, Abigail Van Buren, and Johnny Carson.

Iowa in Photos

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FAQ Section

  • Where is Iowa?

    It’s one of the states in the Midwest and is entirely bordered by other states. To the east, residents see the Mississippi River. The western side is where they’ll find the Missouri and Big Sioux Rivers. IA shares borders with Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

  • How Many Counties in the Hawkeye State?

    There are 99 counties, two of which had existed since before IA joined the Union. Those two would be Des Moines and Dubuque counties. The wealthiest is Dallas County, while the poorest is Appanoose County.

  • What Time Zone is Iowa in?

    It’s in the Central Time Zone (USA GMT-5), so it is one hour behind New York Time. All of the counties are in CST, and they observe Daylight Savings Time.

  • What to Do in IA?

    Some of the best things to do here include visiting historical centers, like the Capitol Building or the Sioux City Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center.

    There are also several interesting museums here, as well as the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. For some outdoor time, there are beautiful gardens, sculpture parks, and, of course, those beautiful rolling green hills.

  • What is Iowa Known for?

    It is mostly known for its farmland and the State Fair. This event has been happening since 1854, and about a million people go each year. For the past 110 years, the fair has featured a butter sculpture in the shape of a cow. The area is also famous for corn and the Herbert Hoover Library.

  • What is the Iowa Caucus?

    It’s the event that is held at the start of each U.S. Presidential election. The caucuses are elections in which residents vote for the Democratic and Republican nominees. It’s unique in that the caucus involves a public gathering to discuss the candidates. The results often pave the way for how the rest of the election season will go.