Tax Freedom Day 2009: Pick Your State Carefully

The Tax Foundation recently released their 2009 Tax Freedom Day Study.  It measures how many days the average worker must work to  pay taxes. There is a wide disparity among states. The tax burden you bear can significantly impact your quality of life.

The Best State for Tax Freedom is Alaska where it takes 82 days almost 25% of the year just to pay taxes.  Louisiana, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota and West Virginia are also rated Best States for Tax Freedom.  If you are not retired, these states would be considered as candidates for Best States to Work.

The Worst State for Tax Freedom is Connecticut where it takes 120 days or until April 30 to pay taxes.  If you live in Connecticut 1/3 of your time every year goes to pay taxes to the Federal, State and Local governments.  That is almost 50% more days than Alaska.  New Jersey, New York, California and Maryland are also rated Worst States for Tax Freedom.

According to the Tax Foundation study, five major categories of tax dominate the tax burden. Individual income taxes, both federal and state, require 38 days’ work. Payroll taxes take another 27 days’ work. Sales and excise taxes, mostly state and local, take 15 days to pay off. Corporate income taxes take 6 days, and property taxes take 12. Americans will log 4 more days to pay other miscellaneous taxes, most notably including motor vehicle license taxes and severance taxes, and about 1 day for estate taxes.

What state you live in is very important in determining your lifestyle as higher cost of living states tend to have higher tax burdens.  Lower disposable income is the result.  Many states are also increasing many taxes due to economic conditions which will increase tax burdens.  Noteworthy examples are the proposed increases in New York and California that will make these heavily burdened states more undesirable to live.  If you are not retired, New York and California would have to be considered as 2 of the Worst States to Work.

Tax
State Days Freedom Day
1 Alaska 82 23-Mar
2 Louisiana 87 28-Mar
3 Mississippi 87 28-Mar
4 South Dakota 88 29-Mar
5 North Dakota 91 1-Apr
6 West Virginia 91 1-Apr
7 Alabama 92 2-Apr
8 New Mexico 92 2-Apr
9 Montana 93 3-Apr
10 Kentucky 93 3-Apr
11 Oklahoma 94 4-Apr
12 Iowa 94 4-Apr
13 South Carolina 94 4-Apr
14 Arkansas 94 4-Apr
15 Tennessee 95 5-Apr
16 Wyoming 95 5-Apr
17 Missouri 96 6-Apr
18 Maine 96 6-Apr
19 Texas 96 6-Apr
20 Nebraska 98 8-Apr
21 Kansas 98 8-Apr
22 Nevada 98 8-Apr
23 Indiana 98 8-Apr
24 Florida 99 9-Apr
25 Oregon 99 9-Apr
26 North Carolina 99 9-Apr
27 Michigan 100 10-Apr
28 Arizona 100 10-Apr
29 New Hampshire 100 10-Apr
30 Ohio 101 11-Apr
31 Delaware 101 11-Apr
32 Vermont 102 12-Apr
33 Idaho 102 12-Apr
34 Georgia 102 12-Apr
35 Colorado 102 12-Apr
36 Illinois 103 13-Apr
37 Hawaii 103 13-Apr
38 Utah 103 13-Apr
39 Wisconsin 103 13-Apr
40 Pennsylvania 104 14-Apr
41 Rhode Island 104 14-Apr
42 Minnesota 105 15-Apr
43 Washington 106 16-Apr
44 Massachusetts 106 16-Apr
45 Virginia 106 16-Apr
46 Maryland 109 19-Apr
47 California 110 20-Apr
48 New York 115 25-Apr
49 New Jersey 119 29-Apr
50 Connecticut 120 30-Apr

Source: Tax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day

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State Unemployment Up Everywhere in Feb, Michigan tops 12% Unemployed

The February 2009 State Unemployment numbers were released this past week and they were not pretty. Every state in the U.S. saw its unemployment rate increase.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)  also released March Unemployment, along with Feb state data, and the nationwide unemployment rate increased again to 8.5% nationwide.  It was 8.1% in February.

Seven States had unemployment above 10% in February.  Michigan was the Worst State for Jobs with a whopping 12% unemployment number.  South Carolina, Oregon, North Carolina, California Rhode Island and Nevada also qualify as Worst States for Employment as the 6 other states with unemployment above 10% .

The Best State for Jobs based on a low 3.9% unemployment is Wyoming. 4 other states qualify as Best States for Employment with rates still below 5%.  They are:  Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.

Some of the state year on year changes are quite large.  Unemployment increased by over 100% from last year in Hawaii and Oregon for example.  Of the large states, Texas is holding up the best with unemployment of only 6.2% in February which was below the U.S. Feb average of 8.1%.

State data is released with a one month lag so expect March state unemployment to get even worse as unemployment increased nationwide in March by .4%.

State Feb-08 Feb-09 Change
1 Michigan 7.4 12 4.6
2 South Carolina 5.7 11 5.3
3 Oregon 5.4 10.8 5.4
4 North Carolina 5.2 10.7 5.5
5 California 6.2 10.5 4.3
6 Rhode Island 6.5 10.5 4
7 Nevada 5.5 10.1 4.6
8 District of Columbia 6.1 9.9 3.8
9 Florida 5.2 9.4 4.2
10 Indiana 5 9.4 4.4
11 Ohio 5.9 9.4 3.5
12 Georgia 5.4 9.3 3.9
13 Kentucky 5.6 9.2 3.6
14 Mississippi 5.9 9.1 3.2
15 Tennessee 5.5 9.1 3.6
16 Illinois . 5.9 8.6 2.7
17 Alabama 4.1 8.4 4.3
18 Washington 4.7 8.4 3.7
19 Missouri 5.5 8.3 2.8
20 New Jersey 4.7 8.2 3.5
21 Minnesota 5 8.1 3.1
22 Alaska 6.5 8 1.5
23 Maine 4.9 8 3.1
24 Massachusetts 4.6 7.8 3.2
25 New York 4.6 7.8 3.2
26 Wisconsin 4.5 7.7 3.2
27 Pennsylvania 4.8 7.5 2.7
28 Arizona 4.5 7.4 2.9
29 Connecticut 5.2 7.4 2.2
30 Delaware 4 7.4 3.4
31 Colorado 4.5 7.2 2.7
32 Vermont 4.4 7 2.6
33 Idaho 3.9 6.8 2.9
34 Maryland 3.7 6.7 3
35 Arkansas 4.8 6.6 1.8
36 Virginia 3.5 6.6 3.1
37 Hawaii 3.1 6.5 3.4
38 Texas 4.5 6.5 2
39 Montana 4 6 2
40 West Virginia 4.2 6 1.8
41 Kansas 4 5.9 1.9
42 Louisiana 3.8 5.7 1.9
43 Oklahoma 3.2 5.5 2.3
44 New Mexico 3.8 5.4 1.6
45 New Hampshire 3.7 5.3 1.6
46 Utah 3.3 5.1 1.8
47 Iowa 3.9 4.9 1
48 South Dakota 2.7 4.6 1.9
49 North Dakota 3 4.3 1.3
50 Nebraska 3 4.2 1.2
51 Wyoming 2.8 3.9 1.1
p = preliminary.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Graduation Rates, SAT Scores and Educational Spending. Who is the Best and Worst?

Does increased spending on Education lead to higher performance?

*******Go to 2009 State SAT Scores List  for the latest SAT results.*********

This question was raised in prior posts.

I thought you might find these 2 charts interesting.  Best and Worst States For Education Spending ranks all states by spending and shows the SAT Score Rank of its students. I also have attached a Chart from  Heritage that shows that the best funded cities do not have the highest graduation rates.

The more money spent clearly does not show up in higher SAT scores or graduation rates. 

New Jersey spends the most money.  Its SAT score rank is 33 .  New York, at 2nd on the money spend, ranks 44th on SAT scores.  The “Worst” State for Education Spending is Utah yet its students rank 20th on the SAT score list above NY and New Jersey. Utah spends about 1/3 the dollars of NY and New Jersey.  Its students do better than all of the Top 10 spenders on Education.  Utah may be considered a Best State for Education considering its bang for the dollar.

Arizona
is the next lowest spend state yet ranks 29th on the SAT Scores list.  Arizona students perform better than the top 6 spenders.  Mesa, AZ which is at the bottom of the Heritage list of city spends has a graduation rate of 77.1%.  Mesa spends only 40% of Boston which has a much lower graduation rate of 57%.

Clearly money is not the only factor that impacts educational performance.  You may want to consider carefully your state’s approach to education.  It appears more dollars on education does not lead to better results.  Tell your political leaders you want accountability for results not just money spent.

State Ed Spend SAT Rank
1 New Jersey 15,033 36
2 New York 14,593 44
3 DC 14,214 50
4 Connecticut 13,059 31
5 Vermont 12,749 30
6 Rhode Island 12,425 41
7 Massachusetts 12,398 29
8 Delaware 11,619 43
9 Alaska 11,551 33
10 Maine 11,014 51
11 Pennsylvania 10,900 45
12 Wyoming 10,852 16
13 Maryland 10,682 37
14 New Hampshire 10,405 26
15 Wisconsin 10,388 6
16 Michigan 9,947 13
17 Ohio 9,936 23
18 West Virginia 9,609 32
19 Hawaii 9,581 48
20 Indiana 9,498 38
21 Illinois 9,473 2
22 Virginia 9,463 34
23 Nebraska 9,365 9
24 Minnesota 9,284 3
25 Montana 8,661 22
26 Oregon 8,595 27
27 Georgia 8,589 46
28 Iowa 8,479 1
29 Kansas 8,440 7
30 California 8,418 35
31 Missouri 8,368 4
32 New Mexico 8,342 21
33 North Dakota 8,337 7
34 Colorado 8,334 18
35 Washington 8,218 25
36 Louisiana 8,167 14
37 Arkansas 8,156 11
38 South Carolina 8,039 49
39 South Dakota 7,949 5
40 Texas 7,716 42
41 Florida 7,683 47
42 Kentucky 7,595 15
43 Alabama 7,532 19
44 North Carolina 7,352 41
45 Tennessee 7,295 10
46 Nevada 7,246 41
47 Oklahoma 7,039 12
48 Mississippi 6,973 17
49 Idaho 6,729 24
50 Arizona 6,586 29
51 Utah 5,555 20


Sources:  Dept of Education.  Spending not regionally adjusted.  College Board.

http://www.heritage.org/research/Education/images/b2179_chart5.gif
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State Unemployment Up in Every State in the Union, Wyoming Best, Michigan Worst State

State Unemployment Up in Every State in the Union, Wyoming Best, Michigan Worst State

State Unemployment Up in Every State of the Union

Michigan Surges to 10.6%.  Wyoming has lowest unemployment in nation at 3.4%.  Rhode Island  is the only other state with over 10.0%. California at 9.3% leaves millions of Californians unemployed. 

Texas was the only state that recorded a statistically significant year on year increase in the number of people working.  Employment increased by 153,000.   The largest statistically significant month over month decreases in employment were experienced in California (-78,000), Michigan (-59,000), New York (-54,000) and Illinois (-36,000).  Losing states show up in a number of areas for being unattractive to business.  See some of our other posts for info on state tax burdens, unionionization rates and attractiveness for business.

If you are looking for a job, the low unemployment states may provide work but you must be careful to understand the kind of industries and work that is available for your skill sets.  Most states have differing industries and worker needs.  Unemployment for December 2008  is listed below for all 50 states and District of Columbia.  The national unemployment rate is now at 7.2%

     Rank       State                                                                                                                                                                  

1 WYOMING 3.4
2 NORTH DAKOTA 3.5
3 SOUTH DAKOTA 3.9
4 NEBRASKA 4.0
5 UTAH 4.3
6 IOWA 4.6
6 NEW HAMPSHIRE 4.6
8 NEW MEXICO 4.9
8 OKLAHOMA 4.9
8 WEST VIRGINIA 4.9
11 KANSAS 5.2
12 MONTANA 5.4
12 VIRGINIA 5.4
14 HAWAII 5.5
15 MARYLAND 5.8
16 LOUISIANA 5.9
17 TEXAS 6.0
18 COLORADO 6.1
19 ARKANSAS 6.2
19 DELAWARE 6.2
19 WISCONSIN 6.2
22 IDAHO 6.4
22 VERMONT 6.4
24 ALABAMA 6.7
24 PENNSYLVANIA 6.7
26 ARIZONA 6.9
26 MASSACHUSETTS 6.9
26 MINNESOTA 6.9
29 MAINE 7.0
29 NEW YORK 7.0
31 CONNECTICUT 7.1
31 NEW JERSEY 7.1
31 WASHINGTON 7.1
34 MISSOURI 7.3
35 ALASKA 7.5
36 ILLINOIS 7.6
37 KENTUCKY 7.8
37 OHIO 7.8
39 TENNESSEE 7.9
40 MISSISSIPPI 8.0
41 FLORIDA 8.1
41 GEORGIA 8.1
43 INDIANA 8.2
44 NORTH CAROLINA 8.7
45 DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA 8.8
46 OREGON 9.0
47 NEVADA 9.1
48 CALIFORNIA 9.3
49 SOUTH CAROLINA 9.5
50 RHODE ISLAND 10.0
51 MICHIGAN 10.6

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

People Leave NY and Illinois for 32 Straight Years!!! People choose Best states with their feet.

Choosing where to live is complicated.  When you choose a state to live, it must be the Best State for your needs.  If a state has inward moves i.e. positive migration,  there must be enough positive factors to create that movement.  United Van Lines recently released its 2008 “migration study.”  It has done so for 32 years.  The “People’s Choice Award for Best and Worst States” are

Best States (Most Inward Moves)

1.  Washington DC
2.  Nevada
3.  North Carolina
4.  Alabama
5.  Wyoming
6.  South Dakota
7.  South Carolina
8.  Oregon

Worst States (Most Exits from State)

51.  Michigan
50.  North Dakota
49.  New Jersey
48.  Pennsylvania
47.  Rhode Island
46.  Illinois
45.  Indiana
44.  Maine
43.  New York

According to United, New York and Illinois have seen more exits for 32 straight years!!!  I wonder if the political folks are wondering why companies and people keep moving away.  Northern States dominate Net Exits.  Nevada has had 23 consecutive years of inward moves and Oregon has had 21 years.  Florida, California and Texas were considered balanced states.

For more info go to United’s website:  http://www.unitedvanlines.com/mover/united-newsroom/press-releases/2008/2008-united-van-lines-migration-study.htm

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