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

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6. Colorado
> 2018 unemployment: 3.3% (14th lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 47.1% (5th lowest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: 3.5% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.6% (6th lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa1/Stable

Both income and job security tend to go up with educational attainment, and Colorado is one of the best-educated states in the country. Of all adults in the state, 91.9% have a high school diploma and 41.7% have a bachelor’s degree, well above the respective 88.3% and 32.6% national shares. Perhaps not surprisingly, financial hardship and joblessness are relatively rare in Colorado. Just 9.6% of the state population lives below the poverty line, and 3.3% of the labor force is out of a job, each well below the respective 13.1% and 3.9% national rates.

Largely due to net migration, Colorado’s population is growing faster than all but a handful of other states. Between 2017 and 2018, Colorado’s population grew by 1.4%, more than double the 0.6% national population growth rate.

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7. Iowa
> 2018 unemployment: 2.5% (2nd lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 82.3% (12th highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: 2.2% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (18th lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aaa/Stable

Iowa ranks as the second best-run state in the Midwest, after only Minnesota, and the seventh best ranked nationwide. Iowans benefit from one of the strongest job markets in the United States. Just 2.5% of the labor force in the state is out of a job, nearly the lowest unemployment rate in the country and well below the comparable 3.9% national rate. Many Americans have health insurance through their employers (or the employer of a family member), and Iowa’s low jobless rate may help explain the state’s low uninsured rate. Just 4.7% of state residents lack health insurance, compared to the national uninsured rate of 8.9%.

Iowa is also fiscally well managed. The state is one of only 15 with a perfect triple A rating and a stable outlook from Moody’s.

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8. North Dakota
> 2018 unemployment: 2.6% (4th lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 63.8% (16th lowest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: 3.6% (9th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (11th lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa1/Stable

In the last decade, North Dakota has benefited from an economic and population boom due to natural gas and oil drilling in the western part of the state. Though growth has slowed slightly in recent years, North Dakota is still reporting faster than average GDP growth. From 2017 to 2018, the state’s economy expanded by 3.6%, more than all but eight other states and well above the 2.9% national GDP growth.

North Dakota is also a relatively safe state. There were just 281 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 state residents in 2018, far below the 369 per 100,000 national violent crime rate.

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9. Texas
> 2018 unemployment: 3.9% (25th highest)
> Pension funded ratio: 76.1% (22nd highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: 4.0% (5th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.9% (11th highest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aaa/Stable

Texas has one of the fastest growing economies in the United States. In the last year, the GDP of Texas expanded by 4.0%, well above the comparable 2.9% national growth. Texas also has the equivalent of 19.7% of its annual budget saved in a rainy day fund, more than all but two other states. Fiscally well managed, Texas is one of only 15 states with a perfect triple A rating and a stable outlook from Moody’s.

Compared to other states, those that are fiscally well managed and otherwise, the Lone Star State does not saddle its residents with a heavy tax burden. The state government collects the equivalent of $1,893 per resident annually in taxes, the third smallest tax revenue per capita among states and well below the $2,900 national average.

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10. Nebraska
> 2018 unemployment: 2.8% (6th lowest)
> Pension funded ratio: 90.2% (8th highest)
> 1 yr. GDP growth: 0.9% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (14th lowest)
> Moody’s credit rating and outlook: Aa1/Stable

Many states take on large amounts of debt to fulfill budget obligations, but Nebraska is not one of them. The state’s outstanding debt is equal to only about $1,051 per resident, the second lowest debt per capita among states and less than a third of the $3,554 national average. The state also has funding for over 90% of its pension obligations, while most states have funding for less than 75% of their pension liabilities.

Nebraskans benefit from a particularly strong job market. Just 2.8% of workers in the state were out of a job on average in 2018, one of the smallest shares among states and well below the 3.9% national unemployment rate for 2018.