Special Report

The States With the Best and Worst Economies

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

16. New Hampshire
> 5 yr. annualized GDP growth rate through Q1 2020: +2.0% (14th highest)
> 5 yr. annualized employment growth rate through June 2020: -1.8% (9th lowest)
> June 2020 unemployment rate: 11.8% (13th highest)
> Poverty rate: 7.6% (the lowest)

New Hampshire is one of 14 states in which GDP expanded by an average of at least 2.0% annually over the past five years. New Hampshire residents have been among the least likely to struggle financially. The state has the lowest poverty rate of any state at 7.6%, about half of the U.S. poverty rate. Personal income per capita in the state is $61,429, well above the U.S. income of $54,526.

Still, New Hampshire has been hit relatively hard by the pandemic. The state’s employment declined by 12.9% from June 2019 to June 2020, as compared to a 8.6% nationwide decline. New Hampshire had the third lowest unemployment rate in June 2019, at 2.5%. By June 2020, it had the 13th highest, at 11.8%.

Source: miroslav_1 / Getty Images

17. Montana
> 5 yr. annualized GDP growth rate through Q1 2020: +0.9% (12th lowest)
> 5 yr. annualized employment growth rate through June 2020: +0.1% (11th highest)
> June 2020 unemployment rate: 7.1% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.0% (22nd highest)

Economic growth has been relatively slow in Montana in recent years. From the first quarter of 2015 through Q1 2020, Montana’s GDP grew by only 4.4%, or at an annualized rate of 0.9% per year, compared to 9.8% five-year growth and 1.9% annualized growth nationwide. In the state, the arts, entertainment, and recreation industry contracted the most, followed by manufacturing and agriculture.

Despite sluggish economic growth, employment has not declined as much in Montana compared to most states. Largely due to the novel coronavirus, in most of the country, there are fewer people working now than there were half a decade ago. In Montana, one of only 12 states with positive job growth, employment has climbed 0.4% since June 2015.

Source: wellesenterprises / Getty Images

18. South Dakota
> 5 yr. annualized GDP growth rate through Q1 2020: +1.0% (17th lowest)
> 5 yr. annualized employment growth rate through June 2020: -0.1% (13th highest)
> June 2020 unemployment rate: 7.2% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.1% (20th highest)

Due in large part to COVID-19, there were fewer people working in South Dakota in June 2020 than the same time in 2019. Still, the state’s employment decline of 3.1% was one of the smallest such declines of any state over that period. For context, employment fell 8.6% nationwide over that period.

Additionally, despite the slight decline in five-year employment, South Dakota’s job market is healthier than that of most states. As of June, unemployment stood at 7.2% in South Dakota, well below the 11.1% national jobless rate.

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

19. Florida
> 5 yr. annualized GDP growth rate through Q1 2020: +2.8% (7th highest)
> 5 yr. annualized employment growth rate through June 2020: -0.7% (23rd highest)
> June 2020 unemployment rate: 10.4% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (17th highest)

Florida’s economy relies heavily on tourism, an industry hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Partially as a result, there are over 1 million fewer people working in the state now than there were at the same time last year. The state’s June unemployment rate of 10.4% is also higher than that of most other states.

Despite the number of jobs that have disappeared in Florida, the state has reported relatively strong economic growth in recent years. Since 2015, Florida’s GDP climbed 15.0%, faster than all but half a dozen states and the comparable 9.8% national GDP growth.

Source: Sean Pavone / Getty Images

20. North Carolina
> 5 yr. annualized GDP growth rate through Q1 2020: +1.6% (19th highest)
> 5 yr. annualized employment growth rate through June 2020: -0.3% (17th highest)
> June 2020 unemployment rate: 7.6% (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 14.0% (14th highest)

North Carolina’s real GDP grew at an average of 1.6% per year from 2015 to 2020, a higher growth rate than 31 other states. This increase was largely driven by expansion in the professional, scientific, and technical service sector, which grew at an average of 6.2% annually from 2015 to 2020.

North Carolina’s labor force has been much less dramatically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic than most other states. The state’s unemployment rate increased by just 1.7 percentage points, compared to the 5.8 percentage point increase nationwide. North Carolina’s unemployment rate of 7.6% is well below the 11.1% U.S. rate.

Sponsored: Tips for Investing

A financial advisor can help you understand the advantages and disadvantages of investment properties. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.

Investing in real estate can diversify your portfolio. But expanding your horizons may add additional costs. If you’re an investor looking to minimize expenses, consider checking out online brokerages. They often offer low investment fees, helping you maximize your profit.