Even though 178,000 new jobs were added in the private sector in the month of May, the U.S. unemployment rate continues to linger above 7.5 percent.

The Labor Department, however, released an optimistic news release on Friday. Acting Secretary of Labor Seth D. Harris said that, despite the overall unemployment rate, May’s jobs report offers “encouraging evidence that the U.S. economy continues to rebound at a steady, moderate rate."

"The economy is clearly recovering, but not as rapidly or robustly as it can and must,” he continued. “There are still too many hard-working men and women who can't find jobs, too many families struggling to secure their place in the middle class.”

Not all states are struggling equally, however. For example, Utah’s rate of unemployment was tracked at 4.7 percent in April 2013, well below the national average. Other states doing noticeably better than the nation as a whole include Iowa (4.7), South Dakota (4.1), Vermont (4.0), Nebraska (3.7) and North Dakota (3.3).

One common thread among states with low unemployment is a smaller population. North Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont and South Dakota all have less than 2 million citizens, according to the most recent census data. In fact, the only state ranked in the top 10 with a population above five million is Virginia, whose unemployment rate comes in 10th place.

This trend is also reflected in the unemployment rates for U.S. cities. Midwestern states such as North Dakota and Iowa have the most cities represented on the list of metropolitan areas with the lowest unemployment rates. In this category, however, Texas stands out as a noticeable outlier. Despite a state population that rests above 26 million and an average of 6.4 percent state unemployment, many of the Lone Star State's individual cities fare well in the bureau's data.

The state of Utah has also been noticed in national rankings for its low unemployment and high rate of job creation. The Beehive State currently has four cities that rank with the 30 lowest unemployment rates: Ogden (tied with three other cities at number 26), Provo (tied at number 18 with Mankato, Minn.), Salt Lake City (tied at number 16 with Rapid City, S.D.) and Logan (eighth).

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics program compiled the list, which estimates total employment and unemployment for metropolitan areas.

See the list of lowest unemployment rates for metropolitan areas.

JJ Feinauer is a graduate of Southern Virginia University and an intern for the Moneywise page on Email: [email protected], Twitter: @johnorjj.