States With the Fastest (and Slowest) Growing Economies

June 24, 2015 by Sam Stebbins

The U.S. economy grew 2.2% in 2014, largely on gains in the professional, scientific and technical services sector. Last year’s growth was up from a 1.9% GDP growth rate in 2013. While all but three state economies expanded in 2014, they did so for a variety of reasons, and the growth varied considerably among the 50 states.

Some state economies experienced truly substantial growth, while others grew relatively slowly, according to a recent release from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Among all states, 16 reported growth rates of less than 1%. Virginia’s economy remained flat, and Mississippi and Alaska’s GDP fell last year. These are the states with the fastest, and slowest, GDP growth rates.

Click here to see the states with the fastest and slowest growing economies

Five state economies expanded at more than twice the national rate. The mining industries in each of these states — North Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado — were the largest contributors to growth compared to other industries. Each of those state’s mining industry contributions were also among the largest compared with mining sector contributions in other states.

However, mining was not a major contributor to economic growth nationally, and the industry was a drag on economic growth in 17 states, five of which had the nation’s slowest growing economies. The mining sector in Alaska, the slowest growing state economy and one of only two states where GDP actually declined, subtracted 1.84 percentage points from the state’s GDP growth rate last year. Clifford Woodruff, economist with the BEA, said that Alaska’s economy has been “declining the last couple of years because of lower mining output on the state’s north slope.”

The professional, scientific, and technical services sector was the largest contributor to U.S. economic growth last year. However, the sector was the largest growth contributor in only seven states: California, Connecticut, Georgia, Utah, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Tennessee. The sector also tended to be among the largest in these states in terms of output. In New Jersey, for example, the professional and business services industry accounted for nearly 16% of the state’s GDP, second after only the state’s real estate sector.

Similarly, the durable goods manufacturing sector was the largest contributor to growth in six states, including Oregon, Idaho, and Michigan — all states that depend heavily on manufacturing.

As Woodruff said, “growth in real GDP is generally a good thing for the residents of the state.” However, changes in a state’s economic output do not always have an immediate impact on the people living in the state. And GDP growth alone cannot fully capture the well-being of state residents and a state’s economic health, he said. To get the most accurate picture, a range of other measures should be reviewed.

While not all states with robust growth had low unemployment rates, the unemployment rate in a few fast-growing states was below the national rate. For example, North Dakota not only had the largest GDP growth rate in 2014, but it also had the lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 2.8%. On the other hand, California had one of the fastest GDP growth rates at 2.8%, it also had one of the highest unemployment rates, at 7.5%. However, California’s unemployment rate is projected to drop nearly 1.5 percentage points, likely due in part to its high GDP growth in 2014.

Based on figures published by the BEA, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed 2014 real GDP growth rates in all 50 states. The real gross domestic product measurement accounts for the effects of inflation on growth. GDP figures published by the BEA for 2014 are preliminary and subject to annual revision. Real GDP figures for past years have already been revised. Population data are from the U.S. Census Bureau and reflect estimated growth between July 1, 2013, and July 1, 2014. We also used data on median household income, poverty, and food stamp recipiency from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). Last year’s unemployment rates are annual averages and are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Home price data are from the Federal Housing Finance Agency. Energy production in BTU for coal, natural gas, crude oil, and nuclear power came from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and are as of 2012, the most recent period available.

These are the states with the fastest (and slowest) growing economies.

1. North Dakota
> GDP growth:
6.3%
> 2014 GDP: $48.2 billion (5th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 2.2%(the largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 2.8% (the lowest)

North Dakota’s economy grew by 6.3% last year, the largest state GDP growth in the nation and far higher than the U.S. growth rate of 2.2%. Energy production, which is part of the mining sector, has been a major contributing factor to the state’s economic growth. The state produced 1,406 trillion BTUs of crude oil in 2012, the second highest production level in the country after Texas. The mining sector accounted for 2.47 percentage points of the state’s overall growth rate. This was also the third highest such contribution from the sector nationwide.

With the largest one-year population growth of any state, at 2.2%, people are still flocking to North Dakota. The state’s housing market is also doing well. The real estate, rental, and leasing sector contributed another 0.76 percentage points to economic growth, the highest contribution from that sector compared to other states. North Dakota’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. North Dakota’s unemployment rate was 2.8% in 2014, far lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. North Dakota’s economic future is far more uncertain than it seems, however. In May, the state had the second-largest over-the-month decrease in employment, with a net loss of 5,300 jobs.

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2. Texas
> GDP growth:
5.2%
> 2014 GDP: $1.5 billion (2nd largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.7% (3rd largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.1% (16th lowest)

Texas’s economy grew by 5.2%, more than double the U.S. growth rate of 2.2%. Like several other state economies growing the fastest, Texas’s economic growth was driven primarily by the mining sector, which contributed 1.25 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, tied for the fifth largest such contribution nationwide. Energy production and the availability of natural resources are major factors in the mining sector. In 2012, the state produced 8,565 trillion BTUs of natural gas, the highest level of all states.

The nondurable goods sector accounted for another 0.84 percentage points of the growth rate, the third highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Texas’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. The state’s population grew 6.8% in the last five years. A strong housing market is another indicator of a strong economy. From 2013 through 2014, housing starts grew by 10.2% in Texas, one of the highest rates in the country. Additionally, housing prices rose 6.6% last year, one of the highest rates nationwide.

3. West Virginia
> GDP growth:
5.1%
> 2014 GDP: $68.0 billion (12th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: -0.2%(the smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.5% (15th highest)

West Virginia’s economy grew by 5.1%, well above the U.S. growth rate of 2.2%. While the state’s construction and durable goods manufacturing sectors were drags on the economy, the mining sector contributed 5.04 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. This was more than enough to make West Virginia the third fastest growing economy in the nation. The state produced 3,059 trillion BTUs of coal and 602 trillion BTUs of natural gas in 2012, the second and ninth highest levels in the country. That year, however, the state’s GDP contracted by 3.4%, the second largest decline at the time. Growing energy activity is a relatively recent development in the state, and the potential social and economic benefits have still not been realized. West Virginia’s unemployment rate of 6.5% was slightly higher than the national unemployment rate. Also, the state’s housing market is not especially strong. Housing starts shrank by 16.8% in 2014, the second largest decline of any state after only Vermont. In addition, the state’s poverty rate of 18.5% was the 10th highest nationwide.

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4. Wyoming
> GDP growth:
5.1%
> 2014 GDP: $37.6 billion (2nd smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.2%(11th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.3% (8th lowest)

Like in most states with especially fast-growing economies, Wyoming’s economic growth was driven primarily by the mining sector — Wyoming has abundant natural resources, and energy production, too, is part of the mining sector. The state produced 6,974 trillion BTUs of coal in 2012, the highest level in the country. Last year, the mining sector contributed 3.52 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the second largest such contribution nationwide. Other industries also helped GDP growth. The nondurable goods sector contributed 0.66 percentage points to growth, the fourth highest contribution from that sector in the country. A growing economy often leads to more job opportunities. Wyoming’s unemployment rate was 4.3% in 2014, one of the lowest rates nationwide. The housing market, on the other hand, did not show any improvement. Housing starts shrank by 8.8% in 2013, one of the larger declines.

5. Colorado
> GDP growth:
4.7%
> 2014 GDP: $279.7 billion(18th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.6%(4th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.0% (15th lowest)

Colorado’s economy grew by 4.7%, far higher than the U.S. growth rate of 2.2%. As was the case with several of the states with the fastest growing economies, the mining sector contributed disproportionately to growth, contributing 1.25 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The real estate, rental, and leasing sector, which was among the larger industry contributors to national GDP growth in 2014, contributed 0.43 percentage points to growth in Colorado, the third highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Colorado’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. The state’s population grew by 6.1% in the five years through 2014.

6. Oregon
> GDP growth:
3.6%
> 2014 GDP: $203.8 billion (25th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.1%(12th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.9% (8th highest)

Oregon’s economy grew by 3.6% last year, faster than in all but five other states. Growth was driven primarily by the durable goods sector, which contributed 1.34 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the highest such contribution nationwide. Oregon’s durable goods manufacturing, which is largely composed of advanced technology producers such as Tektronix and Intel, generated $52.9 billion, the fifth largest manufacturing output of all states. The management of companies and enterprises sector contributed another 0.42 percentage points to growth, the fourth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Despite the fast economic growth, Oregon’s annual unemployment rate was 6.9%, higher than the national rate of 6.2%. Similarly, the state’s housing market is not especially strong. Housing starts shrank by 3.4% in 2013.

7. Utah
> GDP growth:
3.1%
> 2014 GDP: $128.2 billion (19th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.4%(7th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 3.8% (4th lowest)

Utah’s economy expanded by 3.1%, the seventh highest growth rate in the country. The largest part of the state’s growth was generated by the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.52 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The nondurable goods sector also had an impact, contributing 0.42 percentage points to growth, the eighth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Utah’s unemployment rate was 3.8% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Utah’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. The state’s population grew by 6.1% in the last five years. The housing market is another indication that Utah’s economy is doing well. From 2013 to 2014, new building permits grew 1.5% in the country, and housing prices rose by 4.6%, both among of the highest increases across the country.

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8. Washington
> GDP growth:
3.0%
> 2014 GDP: $390.5 billion (14th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.3%(10th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.2% (22nd highest)

Washington’s economy grew by 3.0%, the eighth highest growth rate in the country. Growth was driven primarily by the retail trade sector, which contributed 0.62 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, a larger contribution from that sector than in any other state. The information sector contributed another 0.58 percentage points to growth, also the highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Washington’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. The state’s population grew 4.7% in the five years through 2014, the eighth largest population growth rate nationwide. Washington’s unemployment rate was 6.2% in 2014, in line with the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Washington residents were also relatively well educated. Nearly 33% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, the 11th highest rate in the country. An educated populace often helps promote economic growth.

9. California
> GDP growth:
2.8%
> 2014 GDP: $2.1 trillion (the largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.0%(14th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.5% (4th highest)

California’s economy grew by 2.8% in 2014, tied with Oklahoma for the ninth fastest growth rate in the country. The economic growth in California was driven primarily by the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.54 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the largest contribution from that sector nationwide. The sector was also the largest contributor to the national GDP growth rate. Rising housing prices are another indication that California’s economy is doing well. In 2014, the price of a home rose by an average of 7.8%, one of the largest growths nationwide. GDP growth does not fully capture the economic health of an area, and in California it may suggest the economy is healthier than it is. In 2013, the state’s poverty rate of 16.8% was higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%.

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10. Oklahoma
> GDP growth:
2.8%
> 2014 GDP: $162.4 billion (22nd largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.6%(23rd largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.5% (12th lowest)

Growth in Oklahoma was driven primarily by the mining sector, which is composed also of energy production. With the state producing 2,305 trillion BTUs of natural gas, the fourth highest level in the country, the sector contributed 1.45 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The utilities sector contributed another 0.57 percentage points to growth, the second highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Oklahoma’s unemployment rate was 4.5% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

Economic and social benefits may arise from the relatively strong GDP growth. As of 2013, however, Median household income was $45,690, lower than the median household income of $52,250 across the country. The state’s poverty rate was 16.8%, higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%. Of the state’s adults, 86.7% had at least a high school diploma, the 18th lowest rate in the country. Additionally, 23.8% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, the ninth lowest rate in the country.

11. Florida
> GDP growth:
2.7%
> 2014 GDP: $769.6 billion (4th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.5%(5th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.3% (20th highest)

Florida’s economy grew by 2.7%, tied for the 11th fastest growth in the country. Growth was driven primarily by the real estate, rental, and leasing sector, which contributed 0.67 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the second largest contribution from that sector in any state. The retail trade sector accounted for another 0.35 percentage points of growth, the fourth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. While Florida’s unemployment rate of 6.3% was just in line with the national unemployment rate, the state’s relatively strong economy has still likely helped attract new residents. The state’s population grew 5.5% from 2010 through last year, the fifth largest population growth nationwide.

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12. Idaho
> GDP growth:
2.7%
> 2014 GDP: $57.6 billion (10th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.3%(8th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.8% (14th lowest)

Idaho’s economy grew 2.7%, tied for the 11th highest growth rate in the country. Growth was driven primarily by durable goods manufacturing, which contributed 0.56 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The health care and social assistance sector also had an impact, contributing 0.34 percentage points to growth, the second highest contribution to growth from that sector nationwide. Idaho’s economy appears to be relatively strong: the state’s unemployment rate was 4.8% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Idaho’s strong economy has likely helped attract workers looking for job opportunities. The state’s population grew 1.3% in the last year. Despite the strong economy, the housing market has been weak. Housing starts shrank by 3.8% in 2013.

13. New York
> GDP growth:
2.5%
> 2014 GDP: $1.3 trillion (3rd highest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(15th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.3% (20th highest)

New York’s finance and insurance sector is among the most robust in the country, accounting for more than 8% of the state’s jobs, the fourth largest share in the country. The industry also accounted for a very large proportion of the state’s economic expansion, contributing 0.87 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, more than double the contribution of any other sector in the Empire State. The information sector was next with a contribution of 0.36 percentage points to growth, the third-highest contribution from that sector nationwide. The housing market is another indication that New York’s economy is doing well. From 2013 to 2014, housing starts grew 3.2%, one of the highest increases across the country. Home prices, on the other hand, rose just 2.2%, one of the lowest price appreciations nationwide.

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14. Georgia
> GDP growth:
2.3%
> 2014 GDP: $435.5 billion (10th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.0%(13th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.2% (6th highest)

Last year, Georgia’s economy grew 2.3%, tied with two other states as the 14th fastest in the country. As was the case across most of the nation, Georgia’s growth was driven primarily by the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.40 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. This was the fourth largest contribution from the sector compared to other states. The information sector contributed another 0.35 percentage points to growth, the fifth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. While a growing economy generally has positive impacts on state residents, GDP growth does not fully capture the health of an economy. Although Georgia’s economy grew slightly faster than the nation’s, the state’s unemployment rate of 7.2% was higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. In 2013 the state’s poverty rate of 19.0% was also higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%

15. Massachusetts
> GDP growth:
2.3%
> 2014 GDP: $425.0 billion (12th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.5%(25th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.8% (24th lowest)

Massachusetts’s economy grew by 2.3%, roughly in line with the national growth rate. Also, like the nation as a whole, the professional and technical services sector contributed more to the state’s economic expansion than any other industry. The sector contributed 0.52 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The health care and social assistance sector contributed 0.26 percentage points to growth, the 10th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Massachusetts’s unemployment rate of 5.8% in 2014 was lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. In addition to stable economic growth, the state has a relatively wealthy, well-educated population. Median household income was $66,768, higher than the national figure of $52,250. The state’s poverty rate was 11.9%, below the national poverty rate of 15.8%. Of the state’s adults, 89.9% had at least a high school diploma, the 18th highest share in the country. Additionally, 40.3% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, the highest share in the country.

16. New Hampshire
> GDP growth:
2.3%
> 2014 GDP: $66.3 billion (11th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(21st smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.3% (8th lowest)

New Hampshire’s economy grew by 2.3%, slightly faster than the nationwide growth rate of 2.2%. New Hampshire’s economic growth was driven primarily by the information sector, which contributed 0.51 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the second largest contribution from that sector after only Washington. The professional and technical services sector contributed another 0.38 percentage points to growth, the sixth largest contribution from that sector nationwide. With an unemployment rate of just 4.3% in 2014, well below the national unemployment rate of 6.2%, New Hampshire’s job market was also relatively healthy. And residents are well-off financially. In 2013, median household income was seventh highest of all states at $64,230, and the state’s poverty rate was 8.7%, the lowest rate of any state.

17. South Carolina
> GDP growth:
2.2%
> 2014 GDP: $174.6 billion (24th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.3%(9th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.4% (18th highest)

South Carolina’s economic Growth in 2014 was driven primarily by the durable goods sector, which contributed 0.45 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The state has one of the largest administrative and waste management sectors in the country, which contributed 0.25 percentage points to the state’s economic expansion, more than in any other state. While the state’s economic growth of 2.3% last year was in line with the national growth rate, other state socioeconomic measures lagged the national ones as of 2013. Median household income was $44,163, lower than the median household income of $52,250 across the country. The state’s poverty rate of 18.6% was higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%. Additionally, 26.1% of adults had at least a bachelor’s degree, the 12th lowest rate in the country.

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18. Ohio
> GDP growth:
2.1%
> 2014 GDP: $532.0 billion (7th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.2%(13th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.7% (21st lowest)

Ohio’s economy grew 2.1% last year, just below the national growth rate of 2.2%. Growth was driven primarily by the management of companies and enterprises sector, which contributed 0.46 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the second largest contribution from that sector compared to other states. The state’s mining industry accounted for another 0.27 percentage points, the 10th largest sector contribution among states. Ohio is a relatively large coal producer. The state produced 642 trillion BTUs of coal in 2012, the eighth highest level in the country. Despite Ohio’s middling GDP growth, however, the state’s unemployment rate of 5.7% in 2014 was well below the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

19. Louisiana
> GDP growth:
1.9%
> 2014 GDP: $216.0 billion (24th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.4%(24th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.4% (18th highest)

Louisiana produced 3,794 trillion BTUs of energy in 2012, more than all but three other states. The vast majority of the state’s energy output — 3,059 trillion BTUs — came from natural gas extraction, the second largest such level of any state. While the state remains a large energy producer, its mining sector was actually a drag on GDP growth in 2014. The industry subtracted 0.63 percentage points from the overall change, nearly the worst contribution from the sector nationwide. Growth came primarily from the nondurable goods sector, which contributed 2.08 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, also the largest such contribution among states.

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20. Michigan
> GDP growth:
1.9%
> 2014 GDP: $417.3 (13th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.1%(10th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.3% (5th highest)

Michigan’s economy grew by 1.9%, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. Growth was driven primarily by the durable goods manufacturing sector, which contributed 0.32 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. This was tied for the sixth largest contribution from that sector compared to other states. The industry’s growth had a disproportionately large impact on state residents, as nearly 18% of the workforce was employed in the manufacturing sector in 2013, the third highest such percentage nationwide. Despite the economy growing, the state’s job market was not especially strong. Michigan’s unemployment rate was 7.3% in 2014, higher than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

21. Kansas
> GDP growth:
1.8%
> 2014 GDP: $132.9 billion (20th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(17th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.5% (12th lowest)

Kansas’s economy grew by 1.8% in 2014, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. While this was not the largest of economic expansions, it was a considerable improvement from the previous year, when Kansas’s GDP contracted by 0.3%. Last year’s growth was driven primarily by the management of companies and enterprises sector, which contributed 0.37 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The industry includes establishments that, usually by holding securities of companies, control and manage these companies. The nondurable goods sector contributed another 0.34 percentage points to the growth, the ninth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Kansas’s unemployment rate of 4.5% in 2014 was lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2% and a significant improvement from 2013.

22. Montana
> GDP growth:
1.8%
> 2014 GDP: $39.4 billion (3rd lowest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.9%(17th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.7% (13th lowest)

Montana’s economy grew 1.8%, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. As was the case in states in the Great Lakes region as well as Louisiana, Montana’s growth was driven primarily by the nondurable goods sector. The industry contributed 1.06 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the second largest contribution from that sector nationwide. The retail trade sector contributed another 0.30 percentage points to growth, the fifth largest contribution from that sector nationwide. Montana’s mining sector was a drag on expansion, subtracting 0.27 percentage points from the GDP growth. However, the state remains a major U.S. energy producer.

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23. Pennsylvania
> GDP growth:
1.8%
> 2014 GDP: $609.1 billion (6th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.0%(7th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.8% (24th lowest)

Pennsylvania’s economy grew 1.8% in 2014. While the growth was slower than the national rate of 2.2%, the state’s economy expanded faster than it did in 2013. The growth was driven primarily by the real estate, rental and leasing sector, which contributed 0.27 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The health care and social assistance sector contributed 0.26 percentage points to growth, also the 10th largest contribution from that sector nationwide. Pennsylvania’s mining sector also expanded, accounting for another 0.25 percentage points of overall growth. The state produced 2,369 trillion BTUs of natural gas in 2012, the third highest level in the country.

24. Tennessee
> GDP growth:
1.7%
> 2014 GDP: $275.8 billion (19th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.8%(18th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.7% (12th highest)

Tennessee’s economy grew by 1.7%, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. As was the case across the nation, the largest contributor to Tennessee’s GDP growth was the professional and technical services sector, which accounted for 0.33 percentage points of the state’s overall growth. This was also the 11th largest contribution from that sector compared to other states. The durable goods sector contributed 0.27 percentage points to the growth, the 10th highest contribution from that sector nationwide.

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25. Arizona
> GDP growth:
1.4%
> 2014 GDP: $260.8 billion (21st largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.5%(6th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.9% (8th highest)

Arizona’s economy grew 1.4%, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2% and roughly in line with its neighbors New Mexico and Nevada, which each had a 1% economic growth. Arizona has one of the largest retail sectors in the country, accounting for nearly 8% of GDP in 2014. The retail sector also was the largest contributor to Arizona’s economic expansion in 2014, accounting for 0.44 percentage points of the state’s GDP growth rate. Arizona’s health care and social assistance sector contributed 0.26 another percentage points to growth, the 10th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Despite the economic growth, Arizona’s economy continued to struggle. The state’s unemployment rate of 6.9% was the eighth highest rate in the country in 2014.

26. Minnesota
> GDP growth:
1.4%
> 2014 GDP: $288.1 billion (17th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.6%(22nd largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.1% (6th lowest)

Minnesota’s economic growth rate of 1.4% was the highest amongst all of its bordering states with the exception of North Dakota. Growth was driven primarily by the health care and social assistance sector, which contributed 0.37 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. Another major economic engine in the state was the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.31 percentage points, the 15th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Though the state’s growth rate was lower than the nationwide rate of 2.2%, Minnesota’s unemployment rate was only 4.1% in 2014, more than 2 percentage points lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

27. North Carolina
> GDP growth:
1.4%
> 2014 GDP: $440.3 billion (9th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.0%(15th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.1% (23rd highest)

North Carolina’s economic growth rate of 1.4% was the sum of what were mostly modest growth rates across a multitude of industries. Growth was driven primarily by the management of companies and enterprises sector, which contributed 0.29 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate, the 10th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. However, some industries in the state detracted from the state’s economic growth. Government, for example, dragged down North Carolina’s economy by 0.17 percentage points and the national economy by 0.02 percentage points. Though North Carolina’s economic growth rate was 0.80 percentage points lower than the nationwide rate, its unemployment rate of 6.1% was slightly lower than the national rate of 6.2%.

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28. Delaware
> GDP growth:
1.2%
> 2014 GDP: $56.7 billion (9th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.1%(11th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.7% (21st lowest)

Delaware’s economy grew by 1.2%, 1 percentage point lower than the national growth rate. The limited growth in the state was driven primarily by the finance and insurance sector, which contributed 0.48 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The health care and social assistance sector contributed 0.27 percentage points to growth, the eighth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Delaware’s unemployment rate was 5.7% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

29. Illinois
> GDP growth:
1.2%
> 2014 GDP: $680.4 billion (5th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: -0.1%(2nd smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.1% (7th highest)

Illinois’s economy grew at a rate of 1.2% in 2014. Though this was not one of the higher growth rates in the nation, Illinois’ GDP in dollar terms was among the highest. At more than $680.4 billion, only four other states had a higher GDP than Illinois. Also, the state’s 2014 economic growth rate was an improvement from the previous year, when Illinois’ economy only grew by 0.2%. Growth was driven primarily by the nondurable goods sector, which contributed 0.43 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. Despite a high GDP and a full percentage point improvement in economic growth since 2013, Illinois still had a 7.1% unemployment rate, one of the highest in the nation.

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30. Rhode Island
> GDP growth:
1.2%
> 2014 GDP: $50.5 billion (7th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.2%(12th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.7% (3rd highest)

Rhode Island’s economy grew 1.2% in 2014, a full percentage point lower than the national economic growth rate of 2.2%. Growth was driven primarily by the management of companies and enterprises sector, which contributed 0.48 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. This represented the largest contribution by that industry to a single state’s economic growth in the nation. However, not all industries fared as well. Wholesale trade contributed nothing to the state’s GDP growth, while the construction industry was a drag on the economy, reducing GDP by 0.20 percentage points. Not only did Rhode Island have among the lowest economic growth rates in the nation, but also it had one of the highest unemployment rates. With 7.7% of the workforce looking for work, Rhode Island had the third highest unemployment rate in the country.

31. Kentucky
> GDP growth:
1.0%
> 2014 GDP: $171.9 billion (23rd smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(20th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.5% (15th highest)

The 1.0% economic growth rate in Kentucky was driven primarily by both the durable and nondurable goods sectors. While nondurable goods accounted for 0.24 percentage points of the state’s overall growth rate, the durable goods sector accounted for 0.21 percentage points, the 14th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. However, Kentucky was more notable for the industries that underperformed. The retail trade industry contributed 0.04 percentage points to growth in GDP in Kentucky, less than in every other state except for West Virginia, where it detracted from overall growth. The state’s economy was negatively affected by the government sector, which reduced the state’s overall GDP by more than a quarter of a percentage point, the sixth greatest retraction by that industry nationwide.

32. Nevada
> GDP growth:
1.0%
> 2014 GDP: $120.8 billion (18th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 1.7%(2nd largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.8% (the highest)

Nevada’s economy grew by 1.0%, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. Growth was driven primarily by the real estate, rental, and leasing sector, which contributed 0.36 percentage points to the state’s overall growth rate. The biggest drag on the state’s economy was the mining industry, which detracted more than half a percentage point from Nevada’s overall GDP growth. This represented a break from the nationwide trend as mining boosted GDP for the country as a whole by 0.19 percentage points. The utilities industry also detracted from Nevada’s economic growth, reducing GDP growth by 0.15 percentage points, the third largest drag from that industry nationwide.

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33. New Mexico
> GDP growth:
1.0%
> 2014 GDP: $83.6 billion (14th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: -0.1%(5th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.5% (15th highest)

Even though New Mexico’s population shrank in 2014, its economy grew by 1.0%. The mining sector expanded the most, contributing 0.91 percentage points to the state’s overall GDP growth rate. The nondurable goods sector also helped fuel economic growth by 0.23 percentage points, the 15th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. While New Mexico’s economic growth rate was not among the nation’s fastest, it marked an improvement from the previous three years when the state’s economy grew 0.1% in 2011, 0.6% in 2012, and was unchanged in 2013.

34. Wisconsin
> GDP growth:
1.0%
> 2014 GDP: $268.7 billion (20th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(14th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.5% (18th lowest)

Wisconsin’s economy grew at a rate of 1.0% in 2014, more than a full percentage point lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. Growth was driven primarily by the management of companies and enterprises sector, which contributed 0.27 percentage points to the state’s overall GDP growth rate. The mining sector contributed 0.26 percentage points to growth, the 11th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Despite relatively strong growth in these industries, the state’s growth rate was 1.2 percentage points lower than it was in 2013. The utilities and finance and insurance industries proved to be the biggest drags on the state’s economy, each reducing GDP growth by 0.11 percentage points.

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35. Missouri
> GDP growth:
0.9%
> 2014 GDP: $259.8 billion (22nd largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(19th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.1% (23rd highest)

Missouri’s economy grew by 0.9% in 2014, down from a 1.8% growth rate the previous year. Following a national trend, Missouri’s economy was dragged down by the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry and by the construction industry. However, while these industries declined nationwide by 0.10 percentage points and 0.03 percentage points, respectively, they had an even greater negative impact on Missouri’s economy, reducing GDP by 0.25% and 0.11%, respectively. Growth in the state was driven primarily by the management of companies and enterprises sector, which contributed 0.45 percentage points to Missouri’s overall GDP growth rate.

36. Arkansas
> GDP growth:
0.8%
> 2014 GDP: $110.7 billion (17th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(16th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.1% (23rd highest)

Arkansas’s economy grew by 0.8% in 2014, lower than the national rate of 2.2%. Economic growth in the state was primarily driven by energy production, with the mining sector contributing 0.52 percentage points to the state’s overall GDP growth rate. In fact, according to the most recent available data, the state produced 1,164 trillion BTUs of natural gas, the eighth highest level in the country. Growth in the management of companies and enterprises sector contributed 0.28 percentage points to growth, the 14th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Arkansas’s economy was hurt the most in 2014 by the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry which retracted by 0.22%.

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37. Hawaii
> GDP growth:
0.8%
> 2014 GDP: $70.5 billion (13th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.8%(19th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.4% (10th lowest)

Hawaii’s GDP grew by 0.8% in 2014, one of the lower growth rates in the country. Still, Hawaii had the highest government contribution to economic growth in the country. The public sector expanded the Hawaii’s economy by 0.34 percentage points, a significant break from the broader national trend of the public sector detracting from economic growth. Nationwide, the government was one of only three industries that detracted from total GDP, shrinking the economy by 0.02 percentage points. Hawaii’s economic growth has been slowing in the last four years. The most significant change was also the most recent, when the economy slowed from a 1.4% growth rate in 2013 to a 0.8% growth rate in 2014.

38. Maryland
> GDP growth:
0.8%
> 2014 GDP: $321.3 billion (15th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.6%(24th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.8% (24th lowest)

Maryland’s economy grew 0.8% in 2014, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. Though Maryland’s growth rate was relatively low, the state had the 15th highest GDP in the nation at just over $321 billion. Growth was driven primarily by the real estate, rental, and leasing sector, which contributed 0.36 percentage points to the state’s overall GDP growth rate. The professional and technical services sector was a close second, contributing 0.33 percentage points to growth, the 11th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. While Maryland’s economy may not have expanded as fast as many other state economies, the state is doing better than most in several other economic measures. The median household income in Maryland was $72,483, higher than the comparable national figure of $52,250. Also, Maryland’s unemployment rate of 5.8% in 2014, was lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

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39. Alabama
> GDP growth:
0.7%
> 2014 GDP: $182.3 billion (25th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(22nd smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.8% (10th highest)

With a growth rate of 0.7%, Alabama had one of the slowest growing economies in 2014. Growth was driven primarily by the durable goods sector, which contributed 0.30 percentage points to the state’s overall GDP growth rate. The nondurable goods sector also contributed to growth with 0.24 percentage points, the 12th highest contribution from that sector nationwide. However, industries such as mining and utilities were a drag on the state’s economy, reducing growth by 0.22 and 0.20 percentage points respectively. The utilities industry had the greatest negative impact on economic growth in Alabama than it did anywhere else in the country. Along with relatively low economic growth rates, the state’s poverty rate of 18.7% was higher than the national poverty rate of 15.8%.

40. Nebraska
> GDP growth:
0.7%
> 2014 GDP: $99.2 billion (16th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.7%(21st largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 3.3% (2nd lowest)

In 2014, Nebraska’s economy grew by 0.7%, as did its population. The utilities sector contributed the most to the state’s economic growth, contributing 0.72 percentage points to the state’s GDP growth rate. The management of companies and enterprises sector contributed 0.30 percentage points to growth, the ninth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Although the trend across the nation was a shrinking public sector, with government detracting from the country’s GDP by 0.02 percentage points, the sector contributed to Nebraska’s growth 0.02 percentage points.

41. Connecticut
> GDP growth:
0.6%
> 2014 GDP: $232.6 billion (23rd largest)
> 1-yr. population change: -0.1%(3rd smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.6% (13th highest)

Connecticut’s economy grew by 0.6%, one of the lowest growth rates in the country and lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. Despite its relatively slow pace of growth, the state’s GDP was more than $232.6 billion, larger than in most states. Growth was driven primarily by the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.38 percentage points to the state’s overall growth. Last year’s growth was slower than the 2013 GDP growth rate of 1.0%. The weaker growth was due in part to declines in the durable and nondurable goods industries, which detracted 0.33 and 0.13 percentage points from GDP growth, respectively.

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42. South Dakota
> GDP growth:
0.6%
> 2014 GDP: $39.8 billion (4th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.9%(16th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 3.4% (3rd lowest)

South Dakota’s economy grew by 0.6%, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. Growth was driven primarily by the wholesale trade sector, which contributed 0.39 percentage points to the state’s overall growth. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry had the biggest drag on the state’s economy, reducing overall growth by 1.12 percentage points. Though South Dakota had one of the lowest GDP growth rates in the country in 2014, the state also had one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. At 3.4%, South Dakota’s unemployment rate was the third lowest in the country and nearly half the national rate of 6.2%.

43. Vermont
> GDP growth:
0.6%
> 2014 GDP: $27.2 billion (the smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.0%(6th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.1% (6th lowest)

At 0.6%, Vermont had the eighth lowest economic growth rate in the country. In dollar terms, Vermont had the lowest GDP, at $27.2 billion. Despite its relatively low growth rate, Vermont’s unemployment rate was 4.1% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%. Also, Vermont’s 2014 GDP growth rate was an improvement from the previous year when the economy shrunk by 0.3%. The public sector was responsible for most of the growth in the state, with government contributing 0.20 percentage points to the state’s overall growth. The state’s expanding economy may be responsible for the continued shrinking unemployment numbers as preliminary data put the state’s unemployment rate at 3.7% through April 2015. The BLS projected the national April unemployment rate at 5.4%.

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44. Indiana
> GDP growth:
0.4%
> 2014 GDP: $289.3 billion (16th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.4%(23rd smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.0% (25th lowest)

Indiana’s economy grew by 0.4% in 2014, lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. The 2014 GDP growth rate marked a change from the state’s previous year’s more robust growth rate of 2.2%, 0.30 percentage points more than the national growth rate that year. In 2014, growth was driven primarily by the nondurable goods sector, which contributed 0.46 percentage points to the state’s overall growth. The durable goods sector also contributed 0.35 percentage points to growth, the fifth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Despite this, industries such as mining and construction shrank, contributing to Indiana having one of the lowest economic growth rates in the country.

45. Iowa
> GDP growth:
0.4%
> 2014 GDP: $152.5 billion (21st smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.5%(25th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 4.4% (10th lowest)

Iowa’s economy grew by 0.4% in 2014, the state’s lowest rate in the last four years. The agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting industry was the biggest drag on the state’s economy, subtracting just over 1 percentage point from economic expansion. Growth was driven primarily by the construction sector, which contributed 0.25 percentage points to the state’s overall growth. Similarly, the finance and insurance sector contributed 0.22 percentage points to growth, the fourth highest contribution from that sector nationwide. Despite having a relatively low GDP growth rate, Iowa’s unemployment rate was 4.4% in 2014, lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

46. New Jersey
> GDP growth:
0.4%
> 2014 GDP: $504.2 billion (8th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.3%(18th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.6% (13th highest)

Although New Jersey’s GDP of $504.2 billion was the eighth highest in the nation, its GDP growth rate was one of the lowest in the nation in 2014. With negative growth figures, industries such as finance and insurance and management of companies and enterprises were a drag on the state’s economy. What growth there was came from the professional and technical services sector, which contributed 0.22 percentage points to the state’s overall growth. In New Jersey, relatively low GDP growth came with relatively high unemployment. The state’s unemployment rate was almost half a percentage point higher than the national rate of 6.2%.

47. Maine
> GDP growth:
0.2%
> 2014 GDP: $52.0 billion (8th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.1%(9th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.7% (21st lowest)

Of all the states with expanding economies in 2014, none had a lower GDP growth rate than Maine. Maine’s economy grew by 0.2%, 2 percentage points lower than the national growth rate of 2.2%. Growth in the state was driven primarily by the management of companies and enterprises sector, which contributed 0.36 percentage points to the state’s overall growth. However, the finance and insurance industry and the nondurable goods industry detracted 0.47 percentage points and 0.16 percentage points respectively from Maine’s growth, the most negative impact those industries had on the economy of any state.

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48. Virginia
> GDP growth:
0.0%
> 2014 GDP: $427.5 billion (11th largest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.7%(20th largest)
> 2014 unemployment: 5.2% (17th lowest)

Virginia’s economy was the only one in the country to neither grow nor shrink in 2014. Industries that contributed to growth, such as the information and health care and social assistance sectors, which accounted for 0.15 and 0.12 percentage points respectively in growth, were cancelled out by negative contributions from other industries. The nondurable goods industry and the construction industry shrunk the state’s economy by 0.15 and 0.19 percentage points respectively. Despite a year of no growth, Virginia’s unemployment rate was 5.2% in 2014, a full percentage point lower than the national unemployment rate of 6.2%.

49. Mississippi
> GDP growth:
-1.2%
> 2014 GDP: $94.5 billion (15th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: 0.1%(8th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 7.8% (tied–the highest)

Mississippi’s economy shrank by 1.2% in 2014, one of only two states where the economy contracted. The decrease was due primarily to a decline in the state’s construction industry, which subtracted 0.54 percentage points from Mississippi’s growth, the largest decline among all state construction sectors. What little growth there was in the state came from the durable goods sector, which contributed 0.18 percentage points to GDP growth. The nondurable goods sector contributed another 0.12 percentage points to growth. Mississippi’s 2014 unemployment rate improved from 2013, but at 7.8% it was still tied with Nevada for the highest in the nation. State residents were also relatively poor. A typical household earned $37,963, the lowest in the country. And the state’s poverty rate of 24.0% was also the highest nationwide.

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50. Alaska
> GDP growth:
-1.3%
> 2014 GDP: $48.7 billion (6th smallest)
> 1-yr. population change: -0.1%(4th smallest)
> 2014 unemployment: 6.8% (10th highest)

Alaska’s economy shrank by 1.3%, one of only two state economies to contract in 2014. Also, Alaska’s unemployment rate was 6.8%, the 10th highest in the country. The nondurable goods sector contributed 0.16 percentage points to the state’s GDP growth. However, this was not enough to offset the industries in decline. Mining activity was a major contributor to growth in the states with the largest growth rates. In Alaska, however, the sector was actually a drag on the economy. The mining sector contributed -1.84 percentage points to the state’s GDP growth rate, the most negative impact compared to all state mining sectors nationwide. The slowing energy output is due in large part to long-running production declines on Alaska’s North Slope. The area produced just over 15,000 barrels of crude oil in March this year, a near historical low, especially when compared to March 1988 when more than 63,000 barrels were produced. While Alaska’s economy shrunk more than any other state’s, it was an improvement from 2013, when the state’s economy retracted by 4.0%.