Is your state a drag on the American economy or a boon? The 50 states — as diverse as they are — each contribute something to the U.S. economy. Because of their diversity, state economies rarely trend in unison. GDP growth is often the default measure for economic strength, but it often fails to tell the whole story. Unemployment, poverty, job growth, and education among other factors can also play a part in defining the strength of an economy.
Economic vitality is as much about growth as it is about the state’s ability to support its population — with jobs, education, economic opportunities and more. In turn, employed, better-paid, and better-educated residents of a state further contribute to economic growth.
> 2016 GDP: $815.07 billion (4th largest)
> 5 yr. GDP annual growth rate: 2.4% (8th largest growth)
> Unemployment: 4.3% (21st highest)
> 5 yr. annual employment growth: 2.9% (2nd fastest growth)
Jobs are arguably the most critical component of any economy, and employment growth is one of the clearest indications that an economy is performing well. The compound annual job growth rate in Florida, the nation’s fourth largest state economy, was 2.9% over the five years through 2016. This was the fastest employment growth rate of any state other than Utah.
While Florida’s economic growth has outpaced the nation as a whole in recent years, many of the state’s residents still struggle with financial hardship. An estimated 15.7% of Florida residents live in poverty, a larger share than the 14.7% national poverty rate.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed economic growth, poverty, unemployment, job growth, and college attainment rates nationwide to compare and rank each state’s economy. As a result, the best ranked states tend to have fast-growing economies, low poverty and unemployment, high job growth, and a relatively well-educated workforce, while the opposite is generally the case among states with the worst ranked economies.