Special Report

Ten States With the Fastest Growing Economies

6. Colorado
> GDP growth: 3.8%
> 2013 GDP: $294.4 billion (18th highest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.5% (3rd highest)
> 2013 unemployment: 6.8% (25th highest)

While the up and coming retail marijuana industry may one day account for a larger share of Colorado’s economy — through tourism and retail sales — it is the strong energy sector that boosted the state’s output in 2013. Mining accounted for nearly $20 billion, or 6.7%, of the state’s total output, among the larger proportions nationwide. Oil drilling activity in the state, however, has met considerable public backlash. Participation in environmental initiatives is on the rise, and there seems to be a growing desire to preserve the state’s environment. Still, the state’s energy sector has grown dramatically in recent years. Between 2007 and 2012, crude oil and natural gas production rose by 89% and 38%, respectively. Economic growth may also have contributed to prosperity among state residents. A typical Colorado household earned $56,765 in 2012, well above the national household median income.

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5. Idaho
> GDP growth: 4.1%
> 2013 GDP: $62.2 billion (9th lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.0% (12th highest)
> 2013 unemployment: 6.2% (15th lowest)

Idaho’s real GDP remained essentially unchanged between 2010 and 2012. Last year, however, the state’s economy grew dramatically by 4.1%. Idaho’s agricultural industry accounted for 1.1 percentage points, or more than a quarter of that growth, five times more than the industry’s contribution to nationwide GDP growth. Last year, 8.7% of total industry output came from the agricultural sector, more than in all but four other states. As of 2012, 5.6% of Idahoan employees worked in agriculture and related industries, well more than double the proportion of Americans who did so, and more than in all but a handful of states.

4. Oklahoma
> GDP growth: 4.2%
> 2013 GDP: $182.1 billion (22nd lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.9% (17th highest)
> 2013 unemployment: 5.4% (11th lowest)

Oklahoma has been one of the nation’s fastest growing states in the last three years, with its GDP rising 3.4%, 3.0% and 4.2% in 2011, 2012 and 2013, respectively. Mining is a key part of Oklahoma’s economy, accounting for 15% of the state’s output and more than half of its GDP growth last year. Specifically, Oklahoma is among the nation’s leaders in oil and natural gas production. Also, Cushing, Oklahoma, is one of the nation’s largest oil hubs and a key delivery point — much of the nation’s oil is stored, priced, and blended in Cushing. In 2013, the average unemployment rate in Oklahoma was just 5.4%, versus 7.4% nationwide. Additionally, home prices at the end of last year were up 7.9% in the past five years, among the highest increases nationwide over that time and above the 4.1% gain nationally.

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