Best States for Income

The U.S.Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) released its rankings of personal income by state for 2009.

Personal income throughout the U.S. was down 1.7% in 2009.  44 states had declining incomes in 2009.  6 states saw an increase.

The Best State for Income Growth in 2009 was West Virginia with an increase 2.1%.  Despite this growth West Virginia has the 44th lowest income in the U.S. at $32,219. It did improve from a 49th ranking in 2008.

The Worst State For Income Growth was Nevada with a decrease of 4.8%.  Nevada with an income of $38,578 was ranked 20th in the U.S in personal income.

The Best State for Income in 2009 was Connecticut .  It had the highest state income at $54,397.   Additional Top States for Income were  New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and New York .

The Worst State for Income was Mississippi .  At $30,013, it has the lowest state income.  Utah, Idaho, South Carolina and Kentucky were also Worst States for Income in 2009.

Income is only one factor in determining a Best State to Live.  Cost of Living , quality of education and job openings and availability should also be considered.

State Ranking of Income 2009

The ranking of states by income follows:

Trustworthy States: Best States to Lose Your Wallet

Gallup recently released a poll on Best States to Lose Your Wallet

With unemployment rising and economic stress increasing, the trust we have in our neighbors and community is of increasing concern. We want to live in a Safe States as they are Best States to Live.  The poll asked people if they believed a lost wallet with $200 in would be returned.  Nationwide 70% of people believe that their wallet would be returned with money still in the wallet.  Large States according to Gallup are generally viewed as less trustworthy.  People in the Southern half of the country do not trust their neighbors as much as people in the North. See Gallup’s map below.

The Best States for Neighbor Trust are:

Top 10 States, Trust in Neighbor

The Worst States for Neighbor Trust are:

Bottom 10 States, Trust in Neighbor

People in the South do not trust their neighbors as much as the North according to Gallup. Chart courtesy of Gallup.

U.S. Map: Trust in Neighbor, by State
When picking your place to live consider your neighbors. Safe States are Best States to Retire and are Top States to Live

Best and Worst States for Births and End of Life

Floyd Norris of the New York Times had an interesting blog post today titled Where People Die .  An unusual topic.  Floyd’s post listed the Best and Worst States for Births and States with Most Deaths per capita.

Then again Floyd does unusual work as evidenced by the fact that he interviewed me in Dec of 2007.  His piece Pessimism Is Growing in Executive Suites investigated the outlook from the CEO perspective. I stated back then ““The recent dramatic drop in confidence may suggest that the worst is yet to come.”  Prescient in hindsight.  CEO’s were very negative about the future then and they continue to be.

The States with Most Births per capita are below.  Utah is the state with the most births per capita.  Alaska, Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma are also Top States for Births.

Most births by State per 100,000 people
1. Utah, 160
2. Alaska, 138
3, Mississippi, 136
4. Texas, 135
5. Oklahoma, 132
6. Idaho, 130
7. Georgia, 130
8. Arizona, 129
9. Hawaii, 129
10. Louisiana, 128

Vermont is the state with the fewest births per capita.

Fewest births per 100,000 people
1. Vermont, 75
2. Maine, 79
3. New Hampshire, 82
4. Rhode Island, 88
5. Connecticut, 89
6. Massachusetts, 94
7. Pennsylvania, 96
8. Michigan, 97
9. West Virginia, 99
10. Oregon, 102

Utah is the State with lowest Deaths per capita.

Fewest deaths per 100,000 people
1. Utah, 44
2. Alaska, 45
3. California, 53
4. Nevada, 54
5. Colorado, 55
6. Texas, 60
7. Washington, 60
8. Arizona, 60
9. Idaho, 61
10. Hawaii, 62

West Virginia is the State with the Most Deaths per capita.

Most deaths per 100,000 people

1. West Virgina, 107
2. Arkansas, 92
3. Oklahoma, 91
4. Alabama, 90
5. Iowa, 88
6. Mississippi, 86
7. Ohio, 86
8. Tennessee, 85
9. Missouri, 83
10. Montana, 81

Floyd also reports some observations about the politics of the lists. It might have been more fun if he had made some social observations.  For example, is Utah more of a loving state as evidenced by the its high birth rates?  Why is Vermont having so few births?  Do they need to love a little more?  State lists are fun   What are your thoughts?

Are Pay Equity Studies Equitable? Are State Rankings Meaningful?

Are Pay Equity Studies Equitable?  Are State Rankings meaningful?

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently published a state ranking of pay equity for college educated women as compared to men.

The report found that in the United States, the earnings gap between college educated men and women over 25 years of age and who work full-time year round was 71%, meaning these women make 29 cents less on the dollar nationally. They also reported the differences in pay equity by state.

While we do not dispute the numbers as put forth by the study i.e. women typically are paid less than men, we do question the validity of the issue and the reasons typically put forth for its existance.   We believe it presents a one sided argument in favor of legislation supporting the “Paycheck Fairness Act.”  The AAUW supports legislation that would close the gap with legislation.  The study has received significant publicity without some common sense rebuttal.

Why do we question the fairness and validity of this study?

We think many other factors also influence pay.

Should experience matter?  Would it be fair to require people with more experience to be paid the same as those with less experience?

Should training and knowledge matter?  Would it be fair to require pay to be the same for people with less training than others?

We believe training and experience should matter!!

The AAUW study neglects to point out that there are significant differences between men and women in the work place.

The Social Security Administration reports that women typically work 13 years less than men during their lifetimes.  13 years of less work experience for any person is meaningful.  You would expect those with less work experience regardless of sex to be paid less on average.

Women typically also leave the workforce to raise children.  One study has measured the average time women leave the workforce for child rearing at 11.5 years.  Women work less work years.  This typically also leads to less training and development of computer and other specific job skills that are part of the pay criteria.  Much of this is learned on the job.  It is common sense to expect people with less training and less experience to be paid less.

While we highly respect the important contributions that women make to our world, we do not believe the AAUW study should be considered as an important fact to support pay fairness.  Many women as matter of choice, happily leave the workforce.   We hope for the benefit of fairness that this study and the “Pay Fairness Act” do not become accepted wisdom and law.

The chart below is from the Urban Institute  The Urban Institute recognizes and charts the differences in male/female work experience. Men work significantly more years than women.
Cumulative Distribution of Work Years
The “Best and Worst States for Pay Equity” are listed below.  Read them with caution.  Interestingly we could not find any obvious conclusions from the listings.

The “Best State for Pay Equity” is Vermont.  Nearby New Hampshire is one of the “Worst States for Pay Equity.”  Does this suggest that employers in Vermont are more “fair” to women than in New Hampshire?  Why?

Are employers in Wisconsin or Montana fundamentally more “fair” than nearby poorly ranked Iowa?  Are there factors other than male/female pay discrimination that are more influential that create lower average pay for women in Iowa?  For example, do families in Wisconsin have a lower value for child rearing resulting in more work time for women and thus more pay?  We think that would be a meaningless conclusion.

There are many factors that influence differences in pay between the sexes.  We think state by state rankings offer limited insight and create numerous questions for understanding why.

Best States for Pay Equity

1) Vermont 87%
2) Hawaii 83%
3) Delaware 80%
4) New York 78%
5) Montana 77%
6) Wyoming 77%
7) New Mexico 77%
8) Wisconsin 76%
9) Oregon 76%
10) Nevada 75%

Worst States for Pay Equity

42) Utah 69%
43) Michigan 68%
44) Arkansas 68%
45) Iowa 68%
46) New Hampshire 68%
47) Oklahoma 67%
48) Virginia 67%
49) Mississippi 67%
50) West Virginia 67%
51) Louisiana 65

Finally, the AAUW Executive Director Linda D. Hallman, CAE, said “Our analysis is quite disturbing, especially when you consider how more and more families are depending on a woman’s paycheck as the primary source of income in these tough economic times. Consequently, the issue of pay equity takes on an added sense of urgency. This is just one of the reasons why we’re urging the Senate to join the House and pass the Paycheck Fairness Act,”

We disagree.

The “Paycheck Fairness Act” would be unfair if it punishes experience and training. Fairness requires that all people regardless of sex should be paid on the basis of experience and training as well.

Best and Worst States for Seatbelt Usage, Michigan Best, Massachusetts Worst

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released 2008 data on State seat belt usage.

The Best State for Seatbelt Usage is Michigan with a 97.2% usage.  The other top 5 Best States are Hawaii, Washington, Oregon and California.

The Worst State for Seatbelt Usage is Massachusetts with only a 66.8% usage.  The other Worst 5 States are Wyoming, New Hampshire, Arkansas and Mississippi.

These stats tend to get wide publicity and embolden states to take more action against citizens who do not use seat belts.

22 states do not allow police officers to stop motorists for not wearing a seat belt.  Primary States, those that allow stopping drivers for no seat belts, tend to have the highest seat belt usage.

According to a 2001 study of US crash data, it was found that previous estimates of seat belt effectiveness had been significantly overstated. According to the analysis used, seat belts were claimed to have decreased fatalities by 1.35% for each 10% increase in seat belt use.  Many drivers would prefer not to be pulled over for lack of seat belt usage.  Should we be asking our limited police departments to pull over drivers for not using seat belts? Are there more important “crimes” that our police should be pursuing?  Are drivers in Massachusetts that much more dangerous than Michigan?

‘The Effects of Mandatory Seat Belt Laws on Driving Behavior and Traffic Fatalities’ by Alma Cohen and Liran Einav at Harvard Law School      
State Seat Belt use %Change
1 Michigan 97.20% 3.50%
2 Hawaii 97.00% -0.60%
3 Washington 96.50% 0.10%
4 Oregon 96.30% 1.00%
5 California 95.70% 1.10%
6 Maryland 93.30% 0.20%
7 Iowa 92.90% 1.60%
8 New Jersey 91.80% 0.40%
9 Delaware 91.30% 4.70%
10 Indiana 91.20% 3.30%
11 Texas 91.20% -0.60%
12 New Mexico 91.10% -0.40%
13 Nevada 90.90% -1.30%
14 Illinois 90.50% 0.40%
15 Dist. Of Columbia 90.00% 2.90%
16 North Carolina 89.80% 1.00%
17 Georgia 89.60% 0.60%
18 West Virginia 89.50% -0.10%
19 New York 89.10% 5.60%
20 Connecticut 88.00% 2.20%
21 Vermont 87.30% 0.20%
22 Minnesota 86.70% -1.10%
23 Alabama 86.10% 3.80%
24 Utah 86.00% -0.80%
25 Pennsylvania 85.10% -1.60%
26 Alaska 84.90% 2.50%
27 Oklahoma 84.30% 1.20%
28 Maine 83.00% 3.20%
29 Nationwide 83% 1%
30 Ohio 82.70% 1.10%
31 Montana 82.60% 3.90%
32 Colorado 81.70% 0.60%
33 Florida 81.70% 2.60%
34 North Dakota 81.60% -0.60%
35 Tennessee 81.50% 1.30%
36 Virginia 80.60% 0.70%
37 Arizona 79.90% -1.00%
38 South Carolina 79.00% 4.50%
39 Kansas 77.40% 2.40%
40 Idaho 76.90% -1.60%
41 Missouri 75.80% -1.40%
42 Louisiana 75.50% 0.30%
43 Wisconsin 74.20% -1.10%
44 Kentucky 73.30% 1.50%
45 Rhode Island 72.00% -7.10%
46 South Dakota 71.80% -1.20%
47 Mississippi 71.30% -0.50%
48 Arkansas 70.40% 0.50%
49 New Hampshire 69.20% 5.40%
50 Wyoming 68.60% -3.60%
51 Massachusetts 66.80% -1.90%

Source:  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

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Best and Worst States for Income. Is highest the best?

Best and Worst States for Income in 2008

Connecticut is the Best State for Per Capita Income in 2008 with an average of $63,160.  It is followed by Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Wyoming.

The Worst State for Income is Mississippi with an average income of $31,836.  The next Worst States are West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky and South Carolina.

Higher income does not necessarily correlate to better lifestyle.  Connecticut, for example, is the Worst State for Taxes with the highest tax burden in the country.  Generally the highest income states have the highest tax burdens and higher cost of living index. See: Cost of Living by State

You could spend a lot more for the same house and have a lot less disposable income to enjoy life

State Income Per Capita Rank
Conn. $63,160 1
Mass. $56,661 2
N.J. $56,116 3
N.Y. $55,032 4
Wyo. $53,163 5
Md. $52,709 6
Nev. $49,371 7
Wash. $48,574 8
Colo. $48,300 9
N.H. $48,033 10
Calif. $47,706 11
Va. $47,666 12
Ill. $46,693 13
Hawaii $46,512 14
Fla. $46,293 15
Minn. $46,106 16
Del. $44,889 17
Alaska $44,872 18
R.I. $44,463 19
Pa. $43,796 20
Tex. $42,796 21
Vt. $42,626 22
Wis. $40,953 23
Kans. $40,784 24
Nebr. $40,499 25
N.D. $39,612 26
Ore. $39,444 27
Mich. $39,273 28
La. $39,116 29
S.D. $39,103 30
Ohio $38,925 31
Iowa $38,636 32
Okla. $38,415 33
Maine $38,309 34
Ariz. $38,174 35
Tenn. $38,090 36
Mo. $38,084 37
Ga. $37,850 38
N.C. $37,508 39
Ind. $37,279 40
Mont. $36,793 41
Idaho $36,492 42
Ala. $36,372 43
N.M. $36,031 44
Utah $35,971 45
S.C. $35,419 46
Ky. $34,339 47
Ark. $33,395 48
W.Va. $32,145 49
Miss. $31,836 50
U.S. $44,254
D.C. $70,730
Note: See table 38 for average people per household by state.
Source: Tax Foundation Special Report, No. 163, “State-Local Tax Burdens Dip as Income Growth Outpaces Tax Growth.” The income measure used adds the following to Bureau of Economic Analysis’s personal income measure: capital gains realizations, pension and life insurance distributions, corporate income taxes paid, and taxes on production and imports less subsidies. It subtracts from personal income the fungible portion of Medicare and Medicaid, estimated Medicare benefits that are provided via supplementary contributions, initial contributions to pension income and life insurance from employers, and the annual investment income of life insurance carriers and pensions that is included in personal income.

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Best and Worst States for Wind Energy

Where does your state rank on use of Wind Power?

The American Wind Energy Association recently published data on Existing Wind Energy Capacity in Megawatts and
construction underway.

Texas is the Best State for Wind Energy with 7116 megawatts(mw) of existing capacity.  It also has the highest construction with 1,651 mw underway.  Iowa, California, Minnesota and Washington round out the Top 5 Best States for Wind Energy.

There are a number of States on the list for the Worst States for Wind Energy.  The bottom 10 states have no wind energy capacity and none underway according to the AWEA. For a great map of all states go to American Wind Energy Association

Also check out my previous post on Best and Worst States for Electricity RatesWashington which has the 3rd lowest rate in the nation for electric rates is also in the top 5 for Wind Energy.  Connecticut, on the other extreme, has the 49th highest cost of electricity in the country yet has no wind energy capability.  It does not even have any underway.

If you believe oil and gas prices could go up again in the future you might want to consider living in a state that is serious about other forms of power.

Best States for Wind Energy

Rank State Existing Underway
1 Texas 7,116 1,651
2 Iowa 2,790 20
3 California 2,517 275
4 Minnesota 1,752 0
5 Washington 1,375 70
6 Colorado 1,068 0
7 Oregon 1,067 250
8 Illinois 915 201
9 New York 832 464
10 Kansas 815 199
Worst States For Wind Energy
Rank State Existing Underway
50 Louisiana 0 0
49 Kentucky 0 0
48 Georgia 0 0
47 Florida 0 0
46 Delaware 0 0
45 Connecticut 0 0
44 Alabama 0 0
43 North Carolina 0 0
42 Mississippi 0 0
41 South Carolina 0 0

Source: American Wind Energy Association Blog Search Engine

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.

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.
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Best and Worst States for Defending Life, Pennsylvania Best, California Worst

Americans United for Life (AUL) has recently published a Best and Worst States for Defending Life 2009.  It is a state by state legal guide for Abortion, Bioethics and the End of Life.

It is an extensive review of State policy and law for each state and has a ranking methodology for each of the defined areas of Defending Life.  Pennsylvania is ranked the Best State and California the Worst for Defending Life.

Regardless of your views or politics, the AUL study provides important insight into your state’s positions on issues such as assisted suicide, human cloning, stem cell research, parental notification for abortion for minors and other matters.  It is info you may find useful.  Source: Defending Life 2009


Best States Worst States
1. Pennsylvania 50. California
2. Louisiana 49. Hawaii
3. South Dakota 48. Vermont
4. Oklahoma 47. New Jersey
5. Mississippi 46. Connecticut
6. Texas 45. Nevada
7. North Dakota 44. Oregon
8. Nebraska 43. New York
9. Arkansas 42. Washington
10. Indiana 41. Illinois

Best and Worst States for Health

American Health does a ranking every year of states utilizing a methodology that looks at 22 measures of health determinants and outcomes.  It then ranks the states.

The Best and Worst States for Health in 2008 are:

Best States for Health

1.  Vermont
2.  Hawaii
3.  New Hampshire
4.  Minnesota
5.  Utah

Worst States for Health

50.  Louisiana
49.  Mississippi
48.  South Carolina
47.  Tennessee
46.  Texas

According to American Health Vermont has been ranked Best for the 2nd straight year.  Positive factors included high rate of high school graduation, a low violent crime rate, a low percentage of children in poverty, high per capita public health funding, ready access to primary care, low geographic disparity of mortality rates within the state and a low premature death rate. Two challenges are low immunization coverage with 79.8 percent of children ages 19 to 35 months receiving complete immunizations and a high prevalence of binge drinking at 17.3 percent of the population.

, the Worst State, fell to 50 from 49 in 2008. It has been rated in the bottom 2 states for all years since 1990.  It ranks in the bottom five states on 10 of the 22 measures including a high prevalence of obesity, a high percentage of children in poverty, a high rate of uninsured population, a high incidence of infectious disease, a low rate of high school graduation and many preventable hospitalizations.

The state you live can have an important role in your health.

For the full listing and more info go to their site at American Health Rankings