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: $267.47 billion (21st largest)
> 5 yr. GDP annual growth rate: 1.6% (tied–18th largest growth)
> Unemployment: 5.1% (4th highest)
> 5 yr. annual employment growth: 2.4% (10th fastest growth)
Employment increased at an annual rate of 2.4% in Arizona between 2011 and 2016, a more rapid improvement than in the vast majority of states. Despite the increase in available jobs, Arizona is one of only four states with an unemployment rate above 5%.
Pervasive financial hardship can be a symptom of a weak economy. In Arizona, 17.4% of residents live in poverty compared to only 14.7% of all Americans.
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.