Special Report

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

Samuel Stebbins

Methodology

To determine how well each state is run, 24/7 Wall St. constructed an index of 19 measures assessing state finances, economy, job market, and other various socioeconomic metrics. Data on population change due to net migration from July 2017 to July 2018 came from the Census Bureau’s Population Estimates Program and was included in the index. Data on the poverty rate, the percentage of adults 25 and over with at least a high school diploma, the percentage of the population without health insurance, and median household income for 2018 came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey and was included in the index. The change in median home value from 2017 to 2018 and the change in median home value from 2014 to 2018 were calculated from ACS data and were both included in the index.

State tax revenue figures for fiscal 2017 from the Census Bureau’s State & Local Government Finance tables were adjusted for population using 2017 population estimates and included in the index. Data on outstanding state debt in fiscal 2017, also from the Census Bureau, was adjusted for population using 2017 population estimates and included in the index. We also calculated state debt as a percentage of state revenue in fiscal 2017 and included it in the index. Census Bureau data on the total value of state exports in 2018, estimated using the state-based origin method, were adjusted for population using 2018 population estimates and included in the index.

Data on each state pension fund’s asset-to-liabilities ratio in fiscal 2017 came from The Pew Charitable Trusts and was included in the index. Data on each state’s rainy day fund balance as a percentage of general fund expenditures in fiscal 2018 came from the National Association of State Budget Officers and was included in the index. Credit ratings of each state’s general obligation bonds from Moody’s Investor Service, current as of Nov. 7, 2018, were included in the index.

Data on the number of violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents came from the FBI’s 2018 Uniform Crime Report and was included in the index. Data on the 2018 unemployment rate as well as the percentage change in labor force from 2014 to 2018 came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics Program and both measures were included in the index. Data on the percentage growth in real GDP from 2017 to 2018 and real GDP per capita as of 2018 in chained 2012 dollars came from the Bureau of Economic Analysis and both measures were included in the index. All measures are for the most recent period available and were included in the index at equal weight.