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:

Check in Mail States Delay Tax Refunds

Some states may delay paying tax refunds again this year.  Taxpayers should call them the “Check In the Mail” States.

Last year Kansas, North Carolina, California and Missouri delayed tax refunds.  Taxpayers were not happy about it.  Tax refund delays are another sign of government mismanagement.  In response to last years fiasco, Missouri state house legislators this week passed a bill that if enacted will shorten the time period that the state can withhold payment without interest.  Missouri had to use stimulus money to pay its tax refunds.  See: Missouri State House Approves Quicker Refunds .

This year New York, Kansas, Iowa and Hawaii have already announced they may have to delay payments.  Taxpayers, who are entitled to refunds in these states, will unfortunately suffer.

Here are a few of the headlines and links to the state stories.

Hawaii will delay sending out tax refunds to balance budget

Hold It: Unpaid Parking tickets could delay Iowa tax refunds

NY Governor considers delays in paying tax refunds

Forbes recently published its “Special Report: The Global Debt Bomb.”  In one of its pieces,  United States of Debt , it ranks states according to financial health.  The metrics Forbes looked at for each state when building its ranking included unfunded pension liabilities, changes in tax revenue, credit agency ratings, debt as a percentage of Gross State Product, debt per capita, growth expectations for employment and the state economy, net migrations and a moocher ratio that compares government employees, pension burdens and Medicaid enrollees to private-sector employment.

The Worst States for Debt Trouble, according to Forbes, are Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California and New Jersey.

The States with the least Debt Problems are Utah, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia.  All states have significantly lower debt per capita than the Worst States.  The Best States also have lower unemployment than the U.S. average of 9.7% and lower than the Worst States with Debt Problems.  The Best States for Jobs will typically have better government management of debt.

Forbes also ran an analysis that shows that the states with the Worst Debt and Financial Problems are blue states i.e. states controlled by Democrats.  The piece attributed political unions and big spending by Democrats as the cause of the deepest fiscal holes.
See Political Litmus Test: Bluest States Spilling The Most Red Ink

Best States for Football Championships: Super Bowl Winners by State

Congratulations go to New Orleans Saints for winning their first Super Bowl Championship.

New Orleans and the entire state of Louisiana will celebrate and have bragging rights all year long.  Only 15 states have ever had the honor of being the home state of a Super Bowl Champion.

What States have the most Super Bowl Champions?

California has the honor of being the state with the most football Super Bowl Wins.  Its teams have won 8 of the 44 completed Super Bowls.  Two teams have contributed to California’s rank as the Best State for Football Championships. The San Francisco 49ers have 5 wins and the Oakland Raiders have 3.

Pennsylvania is the second Best State for Football Championships with all 6 wins coming from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the team with the most Super Bowl wins.  Texas is ranked as the third Best State for Football Championships with 5 wins, all by the Dallas Cowboys.

The state list of Super Bowl Winners is below:

Super Bowl Champions by State

 

State Unionism Rankings: Do Highly Unionized States have Higher Unemployment?

Union employment in the U.S. continued to shrink this past year.  Nationwide union participation stands at 12.3% which is a slight decline from 2008.

The BLS 2009 Annual Union Affiliation by Statesurvey was recently published.  It has brought increased attention to the union movement. Union policy will further be in the spotlight this week as the Senate wrestles with the nomination of Craig Becker, a clearly pro-union candidate, to the National Labor Review Board.  See GOP’s Senate Gain Clouds Prospect of Obama’s Labor Board Nominee.  In view of this upcoming debate, we thought it would be helpful to take a deeper look at state unionization and employment.


Let’s take a look at state unionization.

New York is the most unionized state in the nation with 27.2% of its population working for a union.  More than 1 in four workers are represented by a union in New York.  Hawaii at 24.3% is the second most unionized state at 24.3%, followed by Alaska at 23.6%.  Washington, Michigan, and New Jersey are heavily unionized states with about 20% union participation rates.

The least unionized state is North Carolina at 4.4%.  Only one in 23 workers in North Carolina are represented by a union, a sharp difference as compared to New York.  Additional states with low union participation rates are Arkansas at 5.0%, Virginia at 5.4%, South Carolina at 5.4% and Georgia at 5.9%

Twenty seven states had decreased union participation in 2009 as compared with 2008.  States with low union participation rates generally became less so in 2009 and those states with union growth were primarily already highly unionized.  There are 22 states with right to work laws in the U.S.  Right to work laws generally do not require employees to pay fees or join a union even if voted in.

A look at union participation and unemployment shows states with high union participation rates are closely associated with higher unemployment.

The five Worst States for Employment in 2009 were Michigan, Rhode Island, Nevada, California and South Carolina.  All but South Carolina are highly unionized states.  The Worst States for Employment in 2009 generally were highly unionized states.

Worst States for Employment and Union Participation

 

 

The Best States for Employment in 2009 were North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma and Kansas. All but Iowa have unionparticipation rates below the U.S. average and would be classified asstates with low unionization.  If you are looking for a job, look at states with low unionization.  They tend to have less unemployment. See  Best and Worst States for Jobs: Will Jobs Improve in 2010 for the rankings of all states by employment.  The list of Best States for Employment and Union Participation follows:

Best States for Employment and Union Participation



The list of Unionism by State follows:

Unionism by State


Union membership has been in a long term decline since 1983 when BLS first started measuring it in a consistent way.  Union participation was 20.1% of the working population in 1983.  It is now approximately 40% lower at 12.3%.  For the first time in 2009, the majority of union members now work for the government and not for private, for profit entities.  These state workers are on average paid significantly more than private industry.  Making it easier for government workers to unionize will only push labor costs higher and cost the taxpayers more.  Political leaders should be trying to keep these costs in check. (The average federal worker’s pay is $71,206 as compared to $40,331 in the private sector and is growing above inflation rates) The Obama administration’s labor policy approach creates a conflict with its responsibilities to protect the taxpayer. Increased unionization will increase our cost of government.  If the Obama administration is serious about job creation and deficit control, it may want to reconsider this approach.  Unions and job creation generally do not have a positive correlation.  Watch the news this week as it relates to Craig Becker.  It will have implications for jobs and deficits.

One Year Of Obama and Stimulus: Job Openings down 5.48% , Unemployment Up to 10%

It has been one year since President Obama took office and announced a stimulus bill that was to improve jobs.  The data suggests that the job market continued to deteriorate this past year.  Unemployment is up to 10% from 7.4%.  Job Openings are down 5.48%

Job Openings, as measured on careerbuilder.com, have not improved from one year ago.  Nationwide, job openings at January 31, 2010 were 5.48% lower than January 29, 2009.  Total job openings stand at 222,189 as compared to 235,059 last year, a decrease of 12,870.  37 States have lower job openings as compared to last year.

 

 

Best and Worst States has been tracking Job Openings by State for the past year and has reported on movements.  For some of our previouslinks see November 2009, Job Stimulus Not Working  , Job Openings September 2009 and last year’s Best and Worst States for Job Openings January 2009.  While the drops early in the year have appeared to stabilize, the level of job openings is not robust enough to suggest significant improvements in employment soon.

The Best State for Job Openings is Indiana as measured by growth.  Indiana had the largest gain in job openings, 887, up 17.4% from a year ago. Best States for Jobs also were Kentucky, Ohio and TennesseeFlorida and Ohio were the best large states for job openings.  They were the only 2 states of the Top Ten Employment States to show increases in openings.  13 States had increases in job openings from a year ago.

The Worst State for Jobs was California.  It has 3,667 less job openings from a year ago, a decrease of 14.18%.  California also has the fourth worst employment rate in the nation.  Unemployment in California is now at 12.4%, up 3.7% from a year ago.  California is struggling on many fronts and an increasing jobless population will not help it turn around.  For more on California see California Jobs Shrinking

Additional Worst States for Jobs  are Texas, Illinois,Massachusetts and Arizona.  They each had large job opening losses and double digit declines in percentage terms.

Another measure of job openings, the Conference Board’s Help Wanted On-Line Data Series is also indicating year over year decreases in job openings. The Conference Board Data for 2009 annual average job openings stands at 3,357,000, 1.1million below the 4,481,000 annual average for 2008.  More importantly their average job opening number for 2009 is 2.4 million below the 2007 average job opening number.  These are not good numbers.  On an encouraging note,the Conference Board reported positive improvement in job openings in New York, Washington, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, Georgia, Delaware and New Jersey.

All 50 states saw their unemployment rates increase in 2009.  See Unemployment by State 2009 for the entire 2009 list and unemployment changes from a year ago. Job openings must increase significantly nationwide if unemployment is to improve to acceptable levels. It is going to take some time for this to occur.

 

Job Openings by State January 2010

 

Largest State
California Continues to
Show Shrinking Job Openings


Texas Jobs Not Growing

Florida Shows Small Increase

Illinois Jobs Down 10.64%

37 States Have
Fewer Job Openings

2 of 10 Largest States
Show Small Increase

Indiana Best State for Job Opening Growth

Job Openings Do Not Suggest
Employment Improvements

Best and Worst States to Move To

What states are people moving to?  Economists would say that you can learn a lot from people “voting with their feet.”  They leave states for many reasons:  economic opportunity, lower taxes, weather, cost of living etc.

The 2009 Allied Van Lines 42nd Annual Magnet States Report  is an useful report in understanding where people are moving to.  There are some changes from last year that would suggest the economy has influenced people’s moving decisions.

Texas was the Best State to Move To in 2009.  It had the most net people moves in the US, over three times more than any other state.  It was also the most popular state to move to in 2008.  Arizona and North Carolina, which was ranked 2 in 2008, were also popular states to move to.  They were very close in net moves being separated by only 2 moves according to Allied Van Lines.

According to the annual magnet report, the Best States to Move To in 2009 were Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, Colorado and Florida.

The Worst States to Move To in 2009 were Michigan, Illinois,Pennsylvania, New Jersey and CaliforniaNew York is also an unpopular state to move to.  Both Illinois and New York have now lost population, according to the Allied study, for 33 straight years!!  California lost people in 2009.  Its 12.4% unemployment rate may have had something to do with this exodus.  See also Taxpayers Leave New York  and People Choose Best States to Live with their Feet

It should also be noted that this survey is not a definitive migration study.  Florida, for example according to the Florida Bureau of Economic and Business Research, lost population in 2009 for the first time in 63 years.  This is at odds with the Allied stats.  See

 

Political leaders in states where people are leaving should take note.  When people leave a state, something is not working for them in that state.

Does Increased Spending on Higher Education lead to Better State University Rankings?

Does Increased Spending on Higher Education lead to Better State University Rankings?

I thought you would find the rankings of state higher education spending and state university rankings useful.  Intuitively one would believe that states that spend more would have better ranked universities. Higher State spending does not mean it is a Best State for Education.  Lower State spending does not mean it is a Worst State for Education.  A closer look is warranted.

Utah spends the most of its state budget on higher education at 15.5%.  Its University of Utah is ranked 126 according to U.S. News 2009 College Ratings. New York spends the least of all states on higher education with only 5.4%  of its budget yet its highest rated public school SUNY-Binghamton is ranked higher than Utah at 80.   North Dakota is a close second in spending at 15.4% and its university’s state ranking in education is Tier III.  Tier III means it is ranked in the 50-75% of all national universities i.e. below average.  7 of the 10 lowest spending states on higher education have higher university rankings than high spending North Dakota.  North Dakota does not get much bang for its buck.

High Spending States on Higher Education and University Rankings


North Carolina is third highest ranked state on higher education spending at 14.2% and has the highest rated public university of the high spending states with a rank of 28.  This appears to be a positive spend to school rank association.  Yet neighboring Georgia with a spend of 7.6% has its Georgia Institute of Technology rated 35.   Georgia Institute of Technology is higher than every high spend state ranking other than North Carolina.

Alaska is the second lowest higher education spending ranked state at 6.1% and appears to get what it pays for. Its school is rated a bottom 25% Tier IV by U.S. News.   Florida is the third lowest state in spend at 6.3% and appears to get very good returns with the University of Florida rated 47, higher than every high spend state other than North Carolina.

States with the lowest spending on higher education
are primarily in the Northeast.  7 of the lowest 10 states are from the Northeast.  They are, in addition to New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Maine.  Yet 4 of the states, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut have higher ranked schools than every high spend state other than North Carolina.

Low Spending States on Higher Education and University Rankings

Source: Tax Foundation

and US News and World Reports

We have reported previously on education spending and test results.  See Does Spending More on Education Work?

and Graduation Rates, SAT Scores and Educational Spending

A simple thesis that more spending on education leads to better results continues to be elusive.  Be wary of political leaders who say that they are managing your education system better by spending more money.  Check the results.

States running out of Jobless Money, Taxing Employers More

23 States are now borrowing from the U.S. Government to pay for unemployment benefits. (California has borrowed  $4.5 billion as of mid October 2009, the most in the nation.)

This is only the beginning of the bad news for states and employers.  States will be borrowing more and taxing employers more in 2010. This will impact the willingness of companies to hire in the future.  This is not good news for the job market.

For example, Florida, which has borrowed $465 million as of mid October, this past week increased its unemployment insurance tax on employers for next year quite substantially.  The minimum tax will jump from $8.40 per employee to $100.30 – analmost 12-fold increase – while the maximum will go up from $378 peremployee to $459.  Florida is facing a multitude of issues as it tries to dig itself out of the faltering economy.  The Sun-Sentinel did a great piece this week highlighting how Florida is losing residents, jobs and borrowing $300 million per month to make unemployment payments.  See Shrinking Florida faces tough choices as residents flee, jobs vanish

Arizona is among 33 states that will increase unemployment compensationtaxes next year, according the National Association of State WorkforceAgencies.  See  State tax push makes U.S. firms wary of adding jobs

Arizona recently asked to borrow $600 million in federal funds to keep its jobless payments going.  With its October 2009 unemployment rate of 9.3% Arizona will be needing to raise taxes on employers as well.  It is currently estimated that Arizona will increase its tax 41.8% on employers in January 2010.  See Arizona jobless funds running out

Most states will announce their unemployment tax rates for 2010 before year end and taxes will be increasing.  This is bad news for employers and the outlook for jobs. The Heritage Foundation’s Foundry blog recently posted a good explanation on how these increases will further hurt the job market.  See How Unemployment Taxes and Obama’s Stimulus Are Killing Jobs

The List of States Borrowing To Pay Unemployment Benefits follows.  We added Arizona to the BLS list that was compiled as of October 19, 2009.

Rank State Fed Loan
1 California $4.5 billion
2 Michigan $2.8 billion
3 New York $1.6 billion
4 Ohio $1.4 billion
5 North Carolina $1.3 billion
6 Pennsylvania $1.3 billion
7 Indiana $1.3 billion
8 New Jersey $700 million
9 Texas $697 million
10 Wisconsin $684 million
11 Arizona $600 million
12 Illinois $590 million
13 South Carolina $570 million
14 Kentucky $469 million
15 Florida $465 million
16 Missouri $326 million
17 South Dakota $308 million
18 Minnesota $143 million
19 Arkansas $135 million
20 Rhode Island $104 million
21 Idaho $73 million
22 Alabama $47 million
23 Connecticut $31 million

Source:Bureau of Labor Statistics

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

Taxpayers Leave New York

The Empire Center for New York State Policy released a quality report on Empire State Exodus

The report provides enlightening data on the migration patterns in NY and its implications for policy makers.  It should concern NY policy makers.

We have regularly reported on the negative impact of high income taxes on creating a Best State. See New York Jobs: Will they come back?


According to the Empire Center report, New York experienced the nation’s largest loss of residents to other states—a net domestic migration outflow of over 1.5 million, or 8 percent of its population at the start of the decade.This follows a 1.7 million loss in the 1990’s.  Taxpayers are leaving New York.  High income taxpayers, in particular, are leaving.

The States that benefited from New York’s migration losses were Florida, New Jersey, Connecticut, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.  Florida gained over 314,000 taxpayers from NY representing a staggering $9.1 billion of tax base.  It has no state income tax.  New Jersey gained 167,067 taxpayers and $5.7 billion of tax base. North Carolina gained 82,169 and $1.85 billion. Connecticut gained 51,455 and $2.77 billion. Pennsylvania gained 88,961 and $1.52 billion.  New York has lost over $29 billion in tax base in the 2000’s alone.

Tax policy for states must be established with a view of what other options people have.  People have choices within the US as well as  other countries regarding where to live and be taxed.  People are voting with their feet in NY.  They prefer lower tax rates.  The chart below on New York Net Domestic Migration by Year is from the study.  New York has lost almost 1 million people in the 2000’s to other states.

New York politicians continue to raise taxes and are taxing a shrinking base.  See States are Raising taxes

New York State is in a negative cycle downward.  At some point it might look to draw more people in by lowering its rates.  Unfortunately until it does so, people will keep leaving. The entire listing of taxpayer migration by state to (from) New York is listed below courtesy of the Empire Center for New York State Policy.