24/7 Wall St. considered data from a number of sources, including Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the U.S. Census Bureau, the Tax Foundation, RealtyTrac, The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), and the Center on Budget Policies and Priorities (CBPP).
Unemployment data was taken from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Credit ratings were from ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service. We relied on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for violent crime rate by state. RealtyTrac provided foreclosure rates. Pension figures are from Morningstar.
A significant amount of the data we used came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Data from ACS included percentage of residents below the poverty line, high school completion rates for residents 25 and older, median household income, the percentage of the population without health insurance and median home values from both 2007 and 2012.
Once we reviewed the sources and compiled the final metrics, we ranked each state based on its performance in all the categories. Most figures are for 2012. Debt per capita, obtained from the Tax Foundation, and state budgetary data, which came from the U.S. Census Bureau, are for fiscal year 2011. Figures from the CBPP are for the fiscal year 2012. Credit ratings and the Tax Foundation’s rankings for business tax climate are based on the most recently available publications.