Ranked: The Best And Worst State Economies

On a global scale, the U.S. economy is massive at close to $19 trillion in size.

However, as Visual Capitalist's Jeff Desjardins explains below, the United States is also the sum of its parts. America represents the union of 50 states and other jurisdictions such as D.C., and all of these state-level economies have their own unique problems to overcome, drivers of growth, and local resources that factor into their prosperity.

How can we compare these state economies on an even playing field?


Using absolute numbers, it’s hard to directly compare California ($2.75 trillion GDP, 39.5 million people) to a state like Vermont ($33 billion, 0.6 million people). By leveling the playing field, we can get an idea of how states contrast in terms of relative economic strength that companies and workers would better recognize.

Today’s infographic uses 27 metrics from WalletHub to rank state economies.

Courtesy of: Visual Capitalist

These metrics are grouped into three major categories, which are evenly weighted:

1. Economic Activity: GDP growth, startup activity, exports per capita, and three other metrics

2. Economic Health: Labor force changes, median household income, unemployment, and 13 other metrics

3. Innovation Potential: Entrepreneurial activity, R&D investment, patents per capita, and three other metrics

Note: the full methodology with all 27 factors can be found here.

Here’s how the rankings shake down, for all 50 state economies and D.C.:

Topping the list for overall score were the states of Washington, California, and Utah, and the first place state in each major category includes Washington (Economic Activity), Utah (Economic Health), and Massachusetts (Innovation Potential).


Looking at statistics and scoring methodologies alone can be a bit esoteric, so let’s look at some individual cases to see some contrast.

Utah (Rank: #3)
Utah consistently ranks as one of the top states for business, in the country, as well as a top state for job growth and employment. It’s also pretty unique in that it has a fairly diversified economy, with major sectors in the tourism, agriculture, tech, manufacturing, finance, energy, and mining industries.

Utah has a higher median household income ($65,977), and a blistering 3.4% employment growth rate.

Florida (Rank: #22)
Using this methodology, Florida falls somewhere in the middle of the rankings. The good news is the state has good employment growth (2.9%) and a myriad of thriving industries like aerospace. The bad news? Florida has the second-highest level of poverty in the union at 19%, and it also has a lower median household income ($50,860) than the national average.

Maine (Rank: #45)
Economic activity is sluggish in the country’s most northeastern state. With an aging population, slow employment growth (0.8%), and a number of lost manufacturing jobs over the last 15 years, the state is trying to rebound. Maine isn’t helped by having one of the highest tax burdens for its citizens and businesses in the country, either.



Green2Delta Mon, 04/23/2018 - 23:45 Permalink

District of Columbia at #5 is a joke. The only economy that area has is theft. Although we all have to admit they're very good at what they do.

Years ago I thought I read that if Louisiana were to leave the Union they'd be one of the richest countries in the world due to their natural resources. Instead they're poor because of what I just stated in above regarding the District of Columbia.

swmnguy RumpleShitzkin Tue, 04/24/2018 - 09:29 Permalink

Yes, it is by design.  The states where basic standards of life are rationed based on ability to pay have shitty economies.  The state that understand that there is a cost to having a modern society with infrastructure, amenities and support have very good economies.  It's not rocket science.  It's not even complex.

If you won't pay to maintain your house or your car, you'll have a shitty house and a shitty car.  If you won't pay for education, you'll be a dumbass.  You have to invest to get a return.  Nothing complicated or hard to comprehend.

In reply to by RumpleShitzkin

The Ram Green2Delta Tue, 04/24/2018 - 05:53 Permalink

Same is true of Maryland and Virginia (the northern part, anyway).  These economies are 'government economies' based on theft from other states.  There would be little there if the federal government exited the scene.  The article is bull shit and does not consider the massive subsidies conjured out of federal debt.  That is not wealth!

In reply to by Green2Delta

MrAToZ martygraw Tue, 04/24/2018 - 10:49 Permalink

Can liberals even spell the word debt? Can they comprehend the meaning of the phrase "unfunded liabilities", it appears not. How about high taxation. This is just the kind of map that makes them feel good about being stupid. It's BS propaganda that probably passed the desk of Tom Perez before being released.

I live in #2 (no pun intended), in a beautiful area. One mile over the hill homeless. Tent communities under overpasses. There are so many in sunny California that there are plans to build them apartments out of parking structures. The government would like us to consider having them live in our backyards too. Uh huh, sure wonderful.

Human shit so deep on the sidewalks of the liberal utopian capitol they can't pick it up fast enough. It's number two alright. 

Schools 42nd in the nation.

Stupid ideas like painting the streets white at $40,000 a mile to battle global warming (some baksheesh going on there for sure) are implemented (and the paint wears out in seven years!). It's easy to steal from people like this because they green light everything they are told is needed. Sheep.

This is the land of the brain dead and good weather. A place where everyone says the same thing in exactly the same way. Every piece of boneheaded terminology churned out by university crackpots is memorized, absorbed and then regurgitated with attitude. These are the educated Hillary blowhards about? This is ancient Rome with hair gel and jeans that are too tight.

That article stinks like fish. I don't believe a word of it.

In reply to by martygraw

any_mouse Mon, 04/23/2018 - 23:47 Permalink

The District of Columbia is NOT a State.

For some reason now they must want people to think DC is a state.

DC is a den of thieves, a nest of vipers, and so on and so forth.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Mon, 04/23/2018 - 23:47 Permalink

There is a reason so many houses look unfinished or unpainted on the outside in Maine.  It's and end-run around excessive property taxes.  Make the inside look great while the outside looks like the place is falling apart.  I always wondered why that was the case, when I was younger.  After being a tax mule, I understand why.

Memedada ZD1 Tue, 04/24/2018 - 03:16 Permalink

Another well-indoctrinated serf of US Incorporated. All US states are “run” by the same people – the 0,01 % that owns US. US is a hypercapitalist country with a tiny minority owning everything (the media, the productive land/the industries/profit generating capital, the two political parties (masquerading as a choice between different policies but in fact both just doing the bidding of their masters/owners), the think tanks/propaganda institutions that have resulted in many of the “minds” on this site, the MIC, the banks and the rest of the FIRE-sector – even most so called “welfare”-programs are nothing but privately owned Ponzi schemes (food stamps, health care, pensions etc.)). An economy based on the private ownership of the  means of production is a capitalist economy – and a society that lets the capitalists (the owners of the capital) take over the governments becomes a fascist society. That is US – a society run by and for the capitalists. And no, free markets are not defining of capitalism – and no, competition is not defining of a capitalist economy – and no, small government is not defining of capitalism. Those are all propaganda tricks to convince the plebs that the unequal distribution of opportunities, wealth and power is somehow just/based on meritocracy.

US does not have a “left-wing” but only two corporate controlled parties designed to appeal to two different segments of US society – one more elaborate in its illusions (the hopium-campaign as a good example) and the other blunt in its populism (the MAGA – imperialism, nationalism and patriotism with no effort to answer the question of qui bono). The fact is as a US serf you cannot vote against the interests of your owners - no matter what state you're in.

In reply to by ZD1

Southern_Boy Tue, 04/24/2018 - 01:16 Permalink

So if these states are doing so well in terms of economic activity, then why are so many people leaving them?

Maybe, just maybe the terms......

Economic Activity, Economic Health, Innovation Health = Misery, Less Individual Freedom and High Taxes?

Manipuflation Tue, 04/24/2018 - 01:17 Permalink

I'VE WON THE LOTTERY!!!:  Of Jury Tampering Subjection Duty that is.  Well, Wouldn't you know it, my number got called today to appear tomorrow morning at the court house.  This after everyone telling me that I would be called to actually go in.  They don't allow electronic devices like cell phones or computers or anything can record in the courthouse but that's OK because they do allow books, pens and stationary.  Lucky me, I'm ready to go.  I have a new copy of Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises Vlume Two that I have not read yet as well as my Citizens Rule Book Jury Handbook and a pocket US Constitution.  I also have a paper note pad, sticky notes and an old style calculator to bring with.  I probably had better bring some Coin World magazines with.  I have nicotine pills and I wonder if that will be an issue?  I have bottled water because they tell you to bring your own food and drink because they don't stop for lunch.  It sounds more like they never get started in the first place to me.

I've never done jury duty before and I know it varies by what state/jurisdiction you live in and what kind of jury it is.  In my case, it is county level so I am hoping it will not be too overwinded.  I do have to admit that I am curious to see what this duty is all about.  I fully expect a shitshow and to be disrespected as per usual with anything StAtist related.  If I don't report back in a few days, I am likely in jail for Contempt at State.

Manipuflation HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 Tue, 04/24/2018 - 02:22 Permalink

Aww, but I'm so ready for it!LOL  It will be worth it though just to see who shows up.  I just want to see the procedure so that I can speak to it from experience.  The experience adds value to my base of knowledge.  It's not the court case(s) if there even are any that go to trial, it's what happens and how it happens that I am excited about learning.  Don't get me wrong, I am not planning on having fun.  Some days they don't call in jurors and some days they call in some groups but yesterday they a called a lot of groups of jurors in for this morning.  Moar than I ever heard called before.  

This is stuff you have to know.  If I am going to run for Skool Bored then this is training.  Recall, that I have been involved in the political parties and some points at officer level.  None of it is fun but I like baseball and train wrecks as a pastime.

I'm salaried anyway so all the better!

In reply to by HRH of Aquitaine 2.0

Boxed Merlot Manipuflation Tue, 04/24/2018 - 12:27 Permalink

...see the procedure so that I can speak to it...

yeah, it's a kick. The demographics of your community will be on parade and depending on the kind of case, you'll find out in a hurry what attorneys value in a jurist. Been called a few times and served a couple more all the way through to deliberations and verdicts.

Going into a room with 11 strangers after each seeing / hearing the same thing for several days but not being able to talk about it is an eye opener. Lots of fun though. Pretty cool system we have here.


In reply to by Manipuflation

DosZap Manipuflation Tue, 04/24/2018 - 12:41 Permalink

Here in Texas in my AO 75% of the residents are Christians(Evangelicals), no crime, and a perfect place to live raise conservative kids, with proper values and mores. Also we have the best schools in the state.

Now, get called for Jury Duty Summons get screened for a capital case, as SOON as they kind out you're a conservative Christian, the defense never chooses you for a Jury.(don't want the perp judged according the traditional American values.)

My spouse and I have been called a dozen times over 30 years, not ONCE were either chosen to be on a capital offense jury.

In reply to by Manipuflation

thebigunit Tue, 04/24/2018 - 01:29 Permalink

Whoever made up this list doesn't understand the concept of a balance sheet.

California is in debt up to its eyeballs with unfunded liabilities.

Huge government employee pension debt.

Decades of deferred infrastructure and highway maintenance.

But, California has great welfare programs, sanctuary cities and homeless shelters.