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Ranked: The Best and Worst State Economies

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Ranked: The Best and Worst State Economies

Ranked: The Best and Worst State Economies

View the high resolution version of today’s graphic by clicking here.

On a global scale, the U.S. economy is massive at close to $19 trillion in size.

However, the United States is also the sum of its parts. America represents the union of 50 states and other jurisdictions such as D.C., and all of these state-level economies have their own unique problems to overcome, drivers of growth, and local resources that factor into their prosperity.

How can we compare these state economies on an even playing field?

Ranked: State Economies

Using absolute numbers, it’s hard to directly compare California ($2.75 trillion GDP, 39.5 million people) to a state like Vermont ($33 billion, 0.6 million people). By leveling the playing field, we can get an idea of how states contrast in terms of relative economic strength that companies and workers would better recognize.

Today’s infographic uses 27 metrics from WalletHub to rank state economies. These metrics are grouped into three major categories, which are evenly weighted:

1. Economic Activity: GDP growth, startup activity, exports per capita, and three other metrics
2. Economic Health: Labor force changes, median household income, unemployment, and 13 other metrics
3. Innovation Potential: Entrepreneurial activity, R&D investment, patents per capita, and three other metrics

Note: the full methodology with all 27 factors can be found here.

Here’s how the rankings shake down, for all 50 state economies and D.C.:

OverallStateTotal ScoreEconomic ActivityEconomic HealthInnovation Potential
1Washington76.5143
2California73.82262
3Utah73.8514
4Massachusetts73.34291
5District of Columbia67.13613
6Colorado66.41535
7Oregon65.76910
8New Hampshire62.517107
9Maryland61.018286
10Delaware59.8102015
11Idaho58.221219
12Michigan57.923338
13Virginia57.591823
14Arizona57.4162414
15North Carolina57.3241112
16Connecticut57.312459
17Minnesota56.6201617
18Georgia56.082129
19New York55.774418
20Texas55.4191521
21New Jersey55.1114711
22Florida54.5131230
23Missouri50.2341924
24South Carolina49.8142341
25Wisconsin49.2331431
26Vermont49.1353122
27Nebraska49.036734
28Indiana48.9262535
29Nevada48.1222740
30Pennsylvania47.7254127
31Montana47.7461325
32South Dakota47.139539
33Iowa47.0312237
34Illinois46.9274326
35Tennessee46.4291744
36Rhode Island46.0404020
37Ohio45.7304228
38Kansas44.3433432
39Hawaii43.7383038
40New Mexico42.1445116
41Alabama41.6323843
42North Dakota41.151836
43Wyoming39.4473245
44Kentucky38.9284648
45Maine38.9373647
46Alaska37.7503933
47Oklahoma37.1493742
48Arkansas35.9453550
49Mississippi35.0414846
50Louisiana33.2425049
51West Virginia28.1484951

Topping the list for overall score were the states of Washington, California, and Utah, and the first place state in each major category includes Washington (Economic Activity), Utah (Economic Health), and Massachusetts (Innovation Potential).

Case in Point

Looking at statistics and scoring methodologies alone can be a bit esoteric, so let’s look at some individual cases to see some contrast.

Utah (Rank: #3)
Utah consistently ranks as one of the top states for business, in the country, as well as a top state for job growth and employment. It’s also pretty unique in that it has a fairly diversified economy, with major sectors in the tourism, agriculture, tech, manufacturing, finance, energy, and mining industries.

Utah has a higher median household income ($65,977), and a blistering 3.4% employment growth rate.

Florida (Rank: #22)
Using this methodology, Florida falls somewhere in the middle of the rankings. The good news is the state has good employment growth (2.9%) and a myriad of thriving industries like aerospace. The bad news? Florida has the second-highest level of poverty in the union at 19%, and it also has a lower median household income ($50,860) than the national average.

Maine (Rank: #45)
Economic activity is sluggish in the country’s most northeastern state. With an aging population, slow employment growth (0.8%), and a number of lost manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years, the state is trying to rebound. Maine isn’t helped by having one of the highest tax burdens for its citizens and businesses in the country, either.

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