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

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11. Nevada
> 2017 unemployment: 5% (8th highest)
> Pension funded ratio: 72.3% (21st highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +3.8% (2nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 13% (25th highest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa2/Stable

The unemployment rate in Nevada has improved tremendously since the end of the Great Recession, falling from a peak of 13.7% in the wake of the Great Recession in November 2010 to 4.4% in October 2018. The state ranked among the 10 worst run states for four consecutive years beginning in 2010, and is now the 11th best run state.

Nevada has been drawing new residents at a near nation-leading rate, which has likely contributed to skyrocketing home values and rapid economic expansion. The 56.2% appreciation in median home value in the state between 2013 and 2017 is the largest of any state. Additionally, Nevada’s GDP growth of 3.8% from 2016 to 2017 was faster than any state other Washington.

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12. Delaware
> 2017 unemployment: 4.6% (20th highest)
> Pension funded ratio: 81.1% (11th highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +0.1% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (19th highest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aaa/Stable

Delaware is one of only 14 states with a perfect credit rating and a stable outlook from Moody’s. The state has funding for over 80% if its pension obligations — far more than average. The standard of living in Delaware is also relatively high. The state’s GDP per capita of $66,419 is over $10,000 more than the national GDP per capita.

With no sales tax, property tax, or corporate tax on earnings or investment income, Delaware is considered a tax haven by many. Still, through means like personal income tax, lotteries, and corporate franchise tax, the state still manages to collect considerable funds in revenue. Delaware brought in $8.1 billion in tax revenue in 2016, more than all but eight other states when adjusted for population.

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13. New Hampshire
> 2017 unemployment: 2.7% (3rd lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 58.2% (13th lowest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +2.5% (11th highest)
> Poverty rate: 7.7% (the lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa1/Stable

New Hampshire ranks as the 13 best-run state in the country and the second best-run in the New England region. Despite allocating just 24.0% of its annual budget to education, educational outcomes are strong in New Hampshire by several important measures. For example, 93.1% of adults in the state have a high school diploma, tied with Minnesota as the largest share of any state.

New Hampshire is also notable for the relative scarcity of poverty and crime in the state. Just 7.7% of the population lives below the poverty line, the smallest share of any state. Additionally, there were 199 violent crimes for every 100,000 residents in the state in 2017, well below the national violent crime rate of 383 per 100,000.

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14. Hawaii
> 2017 unemployment: 2.4% (the lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 51.3% (6th lowest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +1.2% (18th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.5% (3rd lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa1/Stable

Just 2.4% of the workforce in Hawaii was out of a job in 2017, the lowest annual unemployment rate of any state. The state’s job market is heavily dependent on its tourism industry. Entertainment, accomodation, and food services accounts for 17.3% of employment in the state, the largest share of any state other than Nevada and well above the 9.7% national share.

In addition to the state’s strong job market, Hawaii residents have high incomes, providing a strong tax base. The typical household in Hawaii earns $77,765 a year, about $17,000 more than the typical American household. Meanwhile, the state collects the equivalent of $4,843 per person in taxes annually, more than every other state except North Dakota and Vermont.

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15. Texas
> 2017 unemployment: 4.3% (25th highest)
> Pension funded ratio: 73.0% (19th highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: +1.3% (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.7% (14th highest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aaa/Stable

Texas is heavily dependent on its oil industry, and in recent years, economic growth in the Lone Star State has been stifled by falling oil prices. The state economy grew by 1.3% in 2017, sluggish compared to the 2.2% national GDP growth that year. Still, Texas is relatively well managed from a financial standpoint. The state has relatively little debt and the equivalent of 21.3% of its annual budget saved in a rainy day fund, more than by all but two other states. Texas is also one of only 14 states with a perfect credit rating and stable outlook from Moody’s.

Texas’s population has grown rapidly in recent years, and that has helped drive up property values. The typical Texas home is worth over 30% more now than in 2013, far faster appreciation than in most other states.