Special Report

How Louisiana's Economy Compares to Other States

The COVID-19 pandemic sent economic shockwaves through the U.S. economy, tripling the monthly unemployment to nearly 15% and leading to a more than 30% quarterly decline in GDP — by far the largest economic contraction in U.S. history.

No corner of the country was untouched by the pandemic’s economic consequences — but some states have emerged better off than others. A range of factors, including industrial diversity, labor force education levels, household income, and long-term GDP growth, have an effect on a state’s overall economic strength — and its ability to withstand the impact of the pandemic.

To determine the states with the best and worst economies, both in the years leading up to the pandemic and during it, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of five measures — five-year economic growth, five-year employment growth, the poverty rate, unemployment rate, and share of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Louisiana’s economy ranks as the worst in the United States. The state shed nearly 114,000 jobs during the pandemic, and partially as a result, employment is down 4.1% from where it was five years ago. Currently, 7.3% of the labor force in Louisiana are out of work, one of the higher jobless rates among states and well above the 6.0% national unemployment rate.

An estimated 19.0% of the state’s population live below the poverty line, the second largest share of any state and well above the 12.3% national poverty rate. The widespread financial hardship in Louisiana is indicative of deeply seated economic problems.

All index components used to create this ranking were included at equal weight. All data used to create the index came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Additional state level data on economic output by industry from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This is how all 50 state economies rank.

Rank State Poverty rate March 2021 unemployment rate Avg. annual employment chg., March 2016 to March 2021 Avg. annual GDP chg., Q4 2015 to Q4 2020
1 Utah 8.9% 2.9% +2.0% +3.9%
2 Idaho 11.2% 3.2% +2.3% +3.9%
3 Washington 9.8% 5.4% +1.2% +4.3%
4 Colorado 9.3% 6.4% +1.4% +2.8%
5 New Hampshire 7.3% 3.0% +0.2% +0.6%
6 Nebraska 9.9% 2.9% +0.0% +1.2%
7 Minnesota 9.0% 4.2% -0.1% +1.1%
8 Massachusetts 9.4% 6.8% +0.2% +1.4%
9 Georgia 13.3% 4.5% +1.7% +2.2%
10 Oregon 11.4% 6.0% +0.9% +2.8%
11 Virginia 9.9% 5.1% -0.2% +1.2%
12 Kansas 11.4% 3.7% +0.2% +1.1%
13 Montana 12.6% 3.8% +0.5% +1.2%
14 South Dakota 11.9% 2.9% +0.6% +0.8%
15 Florida 12.7% 4.7% +0.9% +2.2%
16 Maryland 9.0% 6.2% -0.6% +1.0%
17 Arizona 13.5% 6.7% +1.9% +2.9%
18 Wisconsin 10.4% 3.8% -0.2% +0.8%
19 Vermont 10.2% 2.9% -1.9% -0.1%
20 North Carolina 13.6% 5.2% +0.8% +1.7%
21 Indiana 11.9% 3.9% +0.1% +1.5%
22 South Carolina 13.8% 5.1% +0.9% +1.8%
23 Maine 10.9% 4.8% -0.7% +1.0%
24 Alabama 15.5% 3.8% +1.3% +1.1%
25 Tennessee 13.9% 5.0% +1.2% +1.0%
26 Missouri 12.9% 4.2% -0.0% +0.7%
27 New Jersey 9.2% 7.7% -0.9% +0.3%
28 Iowa 11.2% 3.7% -0.9% +0.3%
29 Ohio 13.1% 4.7% +0.0% +0.7%
30 North Dakota 10.6% 4.4% -0.6% -0.4%
31 Texas 13.6% 6.9% +0.6% +1.7%
32 California 11.8% 8.3% -0.6% +2.4%
33 Delaware 11.3% 6.5% +0.4% -0.6%
34 Nevada 12.5% 8.1% +1.5% +1.9%
35 Michigan 13.0% 5.1% -0.6% +0.4%
36 Wyoming 10.1% 5.3% -0.4% -1.6%
37 Rhode Island 10.8% 7.1% -0.8% -0.5%
38 Oklahoma 15.2% 4.2% +0.4% -0.6%
39 Pennsylvania 12.0% 7.3% -0.8% +0.6%
40 Illinois 11.5% 7.1% -1.6% +0.2%
41 New York 13.0% 8.5% -0.8% +0.8%
42 Arkansas 16.2% 4.4% +0.1% +0.6%
43 Alaska 10.1% 6.6% -0.8% -0.8%
44 Connecticut 10.0% 8.3% -2.4% +0.1%
45 Kentucky 16.3% 5.0% -0.1% +0.5%
46 Hawaii 9.3% 9.0% -2.1% -0.5%
47 West Virginia 16.0% 5.9% +0.3% -0.2%
48 New Mexico 18.2% 8.3% -0.1% +1.1%
49 Mississippi 19.6% 6.3% +0.1% +0.5%
50 Louisiana 19.0% 7.3% -0.8% +0.3%