The Best and Worst Run States in America: A Survey of All 50

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31. New Hampshire
> Debt per capita: $6,067 (8th highest)
> Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA/Aa1
> 2013 unemployment rate: 5.3% (10th lowest)
> Median household income: $64,230 (7th highest)
> Poverty rate: 8.7% (the lowest)

In fiscal 2012, New Hampshire raised just $1,666 per resident in tax revenue, the lowest of any state. Of course, that is partly by design, since New Hampshire does not have a state sales tax and does not apply an income tax to earnings — only to dividends and interest income. However, New Hampshire also received low marks for its relatively sparse level of reserves in the most recent fiscal year, as well as for the 56.7% pension funded ratio it had as of 2013, the fourth lowest in the nation that year. Yet, New Hampshire boasts the nation’s lowest poverty rate, at just 8.7% in 2013 and well below the 15.8% nationally. It also scored well for its highly educated population, low crime rates, and for one of the highest median household incomes in the nation, at over $64,000 in 2013.

32. Connecticut
> Debt per capita: $8,889 (2nd highest)
> Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA/Aa3
> 2013 unemployment rate: 7.8% (13th highest)
> Median household income: $67,098 (5th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (4th lowest)

While Connecticut is in the worst-run half of all states, its residents are relatively well off. A typical Connecticut household earned more than $67,000 in 2013, a higher median income than in all but four other states. Property values are also very high. A typical Connecticut home was valued at $267,000, versus the national median of $173,900 in 2013. Additionally, less than 10% of residents did not have health insurance last year, one of the lowest rates nationwide. Yet, while high incomes are generally favorable for residents, they can also often reflect a high cost of living. As of 2012, Connecticut had the nation’s sixth highest cost of living. The state also had one of the highest foreclosure rates last year, with one out of every 74 housing units in foreclosure. More residents left the state than have moved to Connecticut between 2010 and 2013.

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33. New York
> Debt per capita: $6,915 (6th highest)
> Credit rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA/Aa1
> Unemployment rate: 7.7% (15th highest)
> Median household income: $57,369 (16th highest)
> Pct below poverty line: 16.0% (21st highest)

New York scored well for a pension funded ratio of 87.3% as of 2013 and for its ability to raise revenues, with more than $3,600 per capita in tax revenue in fiscal 2012. The state had a substantial amount of debt that fiscal year, however, at more than $6,900 per person. Yet, improved financial management led Moody’s to recently upgrade New York’s credit rating from Aa2 to Aa1. Beyond its finances, New York benefitted from a per capita GDP of $62,420 in 2013, among the highest in the nation. This is, in part, due to its prominent finance, insurance, and real estate industries, which together accounted for 28.8% of New York’s GDP in 2013, a higher share than in all but two other states.

34. South Carolina
> Debt per capita: $3,111 (21st lowest)
> Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA+/Aaa
> 2013 unemployment rate: 7.6% (16th highest)
> Median household income: $44,163 (7th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 18.6% (9th highest)

People are moving to South Carolina much faster than they are leaving. The state added nearly 100,000 new residents from other states and countries between mid-2010 and mid-2013. While this is a good sign for the future, South Carolina trails most states in a variety of economic and social outcomes. The state’s GDP per capita of $36,059 in 2013 was lower than that of all but two other states. Poverty was also quite high. The 18.6% poverty rate in South Carolina was among the nation’s highest. Also, there were 509 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people in 2013, one of the highest rates in the nation.

35. Arkansas
> Debt per capita: $1,206 (3rd lowest)
> Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA/Aa1
> 2013 unemployment rate: 7.5% (18th highest)
> Median household income: $40,511 (2nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.7% (4th highest)

Arkansas was among the states that elected to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. While the implementation of the act is projected to lower the level of uninsured Americans significantly, according to groups such as Gallup and RAND Corporation, the change has been particularly dramatic in Arkansas. According to Gallup, Arkansas had the largest drop in the percentage of adults without health insurance between 2013 and mid-2014. Arkansas had just $1,206 in total debt per person as of fiscal 2012, the third lowest figure in the nation. However, state residents are also quite poor. Nearly 20% of residents lived in poverty in 2013, and a typical household earned slightly more than $40,500, both among the worst figures in the country. Educational attainment in the state was also quite low. Just 84.4% of Arkansans 25 and older had a high school diploma in 2013, while just 20.6% had a bachelor’s degree, both among the lowest rates in the U.S.

36. Pennsylvania
> Debt per capita: $3,617 (21st highest)
> Credit rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA/Aa3
> Unemployment rate: 7.4% (20th highest)
> Median household income: $52,007 (22nd highest)
> Pct below poverty line: 13.7% (19th lowest)

Pennsylvania’s economy demonstrated little growth in 2013, as GDP grew by just 0.7%, or less than all but a few other states. This was despite the state’s ongoing natural gas boom. Natural gas production in the state exceeded more than 3 trillion cubic feet last year. This was more than any other state except Texas. The state’s finances also contributed to its mediocre rank. Pennsylvania had a pension funded ratio of less than two-thirds of the present value of its liabilities as of 2013, worse than in the majority of states. Also, Moody’s recently downgraded Pennsylvania’s debt from Aa2 to Aa3, highlighting “the commonwealth’s growing structural imbalance, exacerbated by the fiscal 2015 enacted budget that depends on non-recurring resources.”

37. Ohio
> Debt per capita: $3,156 (23rd lowest)
> Credit rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA+/Aa1
> Unemployment rate: 7.4% (20th highest)
> Median household income: $48,081 (19th lowest)
> Pct below poverty line: 16.0% (21st highest)

Ohio’s labor force declined by 2.5% between 2009 and 2013, nearly the largest drop among all states. And although Ohio’s home values decreased in line with the national decline of 6.1% between 2009 and 2013, its foreclosure rate in 2013 was considerably worse than most states, at one in every 65 homes. But there has been progress in some areas. Last year, 7.4% of Ohio’s workforce was unemployed, in line with the national rate and down considerably from 2009, when the unemployment rate averaged 10.2% for the year. Similarly, employment, which had dropped significantly during the recession, has picked up in recent years. Ohio is also relatively safe. There were 286 violent crimes reported in 2013, less than the national rate.

38. Nevada
> Debt per capita: $1,397 (5th lowest)
> Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA/Aa2
> 2013 unemployment rate: 9.8% (the highest)
> Median household income: $51,230 (25th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.8% (24th highest)

Nevada’s economy was among the hardest hit by the Great Recession, and the state is still on a long road to recovery. Nearly 10% of the workforce was unemployed last year, the worst unemployment rate nationwide. Although the median home value rose by nearly 10% between 2012 and 2013, the largest increase in the nation, values were still far lower than in the past. The 2013 median home value was still more than 20% lower than the 2009 value, the largest decline in the U.S. Nevada also struggles with low educational attainment rates and a high violent crime rate. While nearly 30% of U.S. adults had attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of last year, only 22.5% had done so in Nevada. And the state’s violent crime rate, at more than 600 reported incidents per 100,000 residents, was nearly the highest in the nation.

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39. Michigan
> Debt per capita: $3,115 (22nd lowest)
> Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA-/Aa2
> 2013 unemployment rate: 8.8% (5th highest)
> Median household income: $48,273 (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 17.0% (15th highest)

As of 2013, 8.8% of Michigan workers were unemployed, among the highest rates nationwide. The high unemployment rate may, in part, explain why more than 68,000 people moved out of the state between mid-2010 and mid-2013. Still, it represents a dramatic improvement from Michigan’s peak annual unemployment rate of 13.5% in 2009, the highest in the country at the time. One likely contributing factor to this is the recovery of the automotive industry. Michigan is also among the top exporting states in the nation. Last year, exports originating from Michigan totalled $5,927 per resident, higher than in all but five other states. Almost half of all exports, by value, were transportation equipment. However, the state’s credit ratings of AA- and Aa2, from S&P and Moody’s respectively, are not especially strong. Worse yet, Detroit became the largest city in U.S. history to declare bankruptcy when it filed for Chapter 9 protection last year.

40. Louisiana
> Debt per capita: $3,333 (24th lowest)
> Credit Rating (S&P/Moody’s): AA/Aa2
> 2013 unemployment rate: 6.2% (15th lowest)
> Median household income: $44,164 (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (3rd highest)

Louisiana had one of the lowest median household incomes in the nation in 2013, at just $44,164, and 10.7% of all households reported an income of less than $10,000, a higher rate than in any state except for Mississippi. Largely due to these low incomes, The poverty rate in Louisiana was nearly 20% and 17.2% of households used food stamps last year, both among the highest rates in the nation. The state’s GDP grew by 1.3% last year, less than the U.S. overall. This was largely due to a decline in output from the mining industry, which accounted for 8% of Louisiana’s output, versus 2.3% across the country. Louisiana’s ranking was bolstered by its high exports, which equaled $13,693 per capita in 2013, the most in the nation. Last year, products made from petroleum and coal accounted for more than 40% of the state’s exports.