Best and Worst Run States in America — An Analysis Of All 50

Print Email

21. Delaware
> State debt per capita: $6,796 (5th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 9.7% (8th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 11.3% (11th lowest)
> Unemployment: 8.1% (23rd lowest)

Delaware has fallen 10 spots since last year’s ranking. It has the third highest rate of violent crime in the country, worse than it was last year. The state also has the fifth largest debt per capita. On the other hand, it has one of the lowest rates of residents without health insurance and a relatively small percentage of people living below the poverty line.

22. Connecticut
> State debt per capita: $8,088 (4th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 9.1% (4th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 9.7% (5th lowest)
> Unemployment: 8.9% (tied for 20th highest)

Connecticut is a relatively wealthy state with the fourth greatest median household income in the country. This is reflected in the tax and spending habits of its government. In 2009, the state collected the sixth largest amount in revenue per capita and spent the eighth largest amount. The state has the fourth lowest percentage of residents without health insurance, thanks in part to state programs such as Charter Oaks Health Plan and Husky Healthcare. However, the state ranks fourth worst when it comes to state debt, owing $8,088 per person.

23. Indiana
> State debt per capita: $3,702 (20th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 14.8% (22nd highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 14.2% (24th highest)
> Unemployment: 8.9% (tied for 20th highest)

Indiana ranks only 23nd on our list of best-run states, but that is a marked improvement from last year’s 29th spot. The state’s scores improved this year in unemployment, violent crime and the percentage of the state’s adult population with a high school diploma. The state still has a great deal of room for improvement, as it ranks in the bottom two-thirds for every single category except for credit rating.

Also Read: The Most Valuable Movie Franchises Of All-Time

24. Ohio
> State debt per capita: $2,423 (17th lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 12.3% (17th lowest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 14.8% (17th highest)
> Unemployment: 9.1% (17th highest)

Ohio’s state revenue in the fiscal year of 2009 was the fourth-lowest in the country. In the same time period, the state spent $71 billion, nearly three times that amount per resident. Despite that fact, Ohio still has an AA+ credit rating and a below-average debt per capita. Ohio scores worse than average on unemployment, median income, foreclosures and poverty. The state does slightly better on graduation rates. Ohio also spends a higher portion of its budget on education than most states.

25. Texas
> State debt per capita: $1,240 (2nd lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 23.7% (the highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 17.0% (9th highest)
> Unemployment: 8.5% (23rd highest)

Texas managed to spend the third least per capita in 2009, and as a partial consequence has the second lowest debt per capita, a mere $1,240 per person. Austere spending comes at a price, however. Nearly a quarter of the state’s residents are without health insurance. Also, only 80.9% of Texans 25 years or older graduated from high school. While this is an improvement from its 2003 rate of 77%, it is tied with California for worst among all states.

26. Idaho
> State debt per capita: $2,284 (16th lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 17.7% (11th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 14.3% (23rd highest)
> Unemployment: 9% (19th highest)

Idaho has the seventh-lowest violent crime rate in the country, a manageable debt per capita and a AA+ credit rating. Otherwise, the state leaves much to be desired. It has the 11th highest rate of residents without health insurance coverage. It also had one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country last month. On a state and local level combined, Idaho spends less per capita than any state in the country on its population.

27. Montana
> State debt per capita: $4,903 (11th highest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 17.3% (13th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 14.6% (tied for 19th highest)
> Unemployment: 7.7% (20th lowest)

Montana’s neighbor, Wyoming, has a debt per capita of $2,452 and a AAA rating. Montana state debt per resident is almost exactly double that, and the state has a AA rating to show for it. Despite the fact that the state’s debt is higher, it actually spends significantly less per person in most key areas than Wyoming. The state has a high percentage of high school graduates among its adult population and a healthy housing market, but otherwise does relatively poorly. The state is worse than average in health insurance coverage and poverty. It also has the 11th lowest median household income in the U.S.

28. Oklahoma
> State debt per capita: $2,689 (19th lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 18.9% (7th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 16.3% (tied for 13th highest)
> Unemployment: 5.9% (7th lowest)

Oklahoma has improved since last year’s ranking, moving up from 32nd place to 27th. One significant change has been the state’s improved unemployment rate, which fell from 7% last year to 5.9%. Many of these new job gains fall within the professional and business services category, a field which can be spurred or hindered by state taxes. Home prices in Oklahoma have increased just under 18% since 2006. However, the state also has a fairly high percentage of residents without health insurance.

29. Tennessee
> State debt per capita: $773 (the lowest)
> Pct. without health insurance: 14.4% (25th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 16.9% (10th highest)
> Unemployment: 9.8% (11th highest)

Tennessee has less debt per capita than any state in the country, a mere $773 per person. In contrast, Massachusetts’ debt per resident is $11,357. Because of its low debt, the state has earned a credit rating of AA+ by Standard & Poor’s. The state spends the second-least per capita each year, which is helpful in keeping its debt low, but it also means many programs go underfunded. For example, it spends less per capita than any state in the country on education. It also happens to have the 11th lowest percentage of adults with a high school diploma.