The Best and Worst U.S. State Economies

As a global power, the country relies heavily on the individual performance of 50 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.) for its massive $19.4 trillion GDP. While these states are immensely diverse, each contributes something to the whole.

However, while GDP is often a default measure of economic strength, it fails to tell the whole story. Economic vitality is as much about growth as it is about a state’s ability to support its population with jobs, education, and opportunities.

An economic snapshot of each U.S. state can help shed insight on how they are really performing. To determine which states are pulling the most weight, analysts have ranked the 50 states and D.C. across three main categories (economic activity, economic health, innovation potential).

Hight ranked states:

1. Washington ranks #1 in economic activity in the United States. Driven by behemoths Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft, the state’s economy is one of the most productive in the country.

2. Home to Silicon Valley, California generates immense wealth and robust job growth thanks to tech giants like Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook. Yet, with housing costs at 92.7% above the national rate, it lags in economic health.

3. Utah ranks #1 in economic health – speedy business growth, high entrepreneurial activity, and a booming population all contribute to its substantial economy. As a result, the state has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Mid-ranked states

19. The Big Apple’s well-educated workforce boosts the financial sector’s strong presence. But there’s a catch – housing costs a whopping 98.2% above the national rate, making New York suffer on economic health.

20. The Texas economy is the second largest in the country, bolstered by crude oil and natural gas reserves. Yet, unemployment and poverty persist, even with living costs lower than the national average.

22. Florida has one of the fastest job growth rates in the U.S, with a myriad of thriving industries. Unfortunately, with a 19% poverty rate (second only to California), many of its residents still struggle.

Low-ranked states

45. Economic expansion in Maine is at a sluggish pace, in part due to the 20,000jobs lost in the last decade to market changes. It’s also experiencing a negative demographic trend with its aging population and outbound migration.

49. Mississippi faces negative population growth, with an inability to retain and attract workers. The state also suffers from high unemployment rates and receives one of the lowest shares of capital investment nationwide

51. West Virginia’s 5-year employment growth is in decline, with one of the least educated workforces in the nation. A wane in coal production and loss of jobs to automation is hitting the state’s industries hard.

An economic snapshot of every U.S. State

Total Rank by U.S. state
1 Washington
2 California
3 Utah
4 Massachusetts
5 District of Columbia
6 Colorado
7 Oregon
8 New Hampshire
9 Maryland
10 Delaware
11 Idaho
12 Michigan
13 Virginia
14 Arizona
15 North Carolina
16 Connecticut
17 Minnesota
18 Georgia
19 New York
20 Texas
1 New Jersey
22 Florida
23 Missouri
24 South Carolina
25 Wisconsin
26 Vermont
27 Nebraska
28 Indiana
29 Nevada
30 Pennsylvania
31 Montana
32 South Dakota
33 Iowa
34 Illinois
35 Tennessee
36 Rhode Island
37 Ohio
38 Kansas
39 Hawaii
40 New Mexico
41 Alabama
42 North Dakota
43 Wyoming
44 Kentucky
45 Maine
46 Alaska
47 Oklahoma
48 Arkansas
49 Mississippi
50 Louisiana
51 West Virginia



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