Best and Worst States
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Best and Worst States

Worst State: Great California Exodus



The Wall Street Journal published an op ed piece today by Joel Kotkin called "The Great California Exodus"

California for years has rated poorly on many fronts for business climate and taxation.  Best and Worst States has a number of posts pointing out California shortcomings.  The piece is noteworthy in that a "Truman Democrat" is stepping forward and stating the government centric regulatory environment of California is responsible for people now starting to leave in the millions.  According to the article, government is the fastest growing entity and responsible for over 4 million people leaving California over the last two decades.  We could not agree more.




Job Openings by State May 2010: Up 7.6% Under Obama

We have updated the Best States for Job Openings.

Since January of 2009 when President Obama took office,  job openings by state as measured on Career Builder  have increased 7.6% to 252,884 from 235,059. The U.S. unemployment rate stood at 9.9% in May of 2010 and 15.3 million people were unemployed.  While the increase is encouraging, job openings must increase much more to make a dent in the high number of unemployed.

Thirty six states have seen increases in job openings under Obama while 14 states have seen decreases.

Of the ten largest states, 9 have shown increases in the number of job openings.  Of these large states, North Carolina  was the Best State for Job Openings on Careerbuilder.  Job openings have increased 17.0% in North Carolina since Obama became President.   Illinois was the only large state to show a decrease in job openings since January of 2009.  Its job openings decreased 4.5%.   California has the most job openings on Careerbuilder yet its unemployment at 12.6% is the second highest in the nation. 

The list of best and worst states for job openings follows.  Interestingly, some of the states with low unemployment such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont  have seen job openings shrink.

                  Best and Worst States for Job Openings 2010

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:

Historic Shrink of Government? States May Have No Choice

Smaller government fans may be in for a historic period.  Due to severe budget crises, state governments throughout the U.S. are "cutting budgets" i.e. shrinking in size.  Lack of money is forcing legislators, regardless of party affiliation, to shrink government spending.  In many cases states can not just raise taxes and fees enough to close the gaps.


Georgia, for example, this week, announced its revenue had shrank for the 15th consecutive month.  Revenue for February 2010 is a whopping 41.3% below February 2007.  January was down 27.3% from 2007.  Georgia legislators are faced with figuring out how to run the state on less money.  They will be forced to shrink the size of government.




The Tax Foundation recently highlighted Georgia's budgetary issues in two releases, "Recession Offers Georgia Opportunity for Tax Reform"  and Georgia Cigarette Tax Hike Would Spur Cross-Border, Black Market Sales

Georgia residents pay the 16th-highest state-local tax burden in the country according to the Tax Foundation.

"There's just no way to put a pretty face on it," Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said in an interview with The Associated Press. "We've got to cut this budget and we have to live within our means."  (Emphasis added)

Georgia Not Alone, All States are Cutting

Georgia is not alone in facing severe cuts.

John Thomasian of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices outlined the environment and cuts facing state governments in his paper, The Big Reset: State Government after the Great Recession

He writes, "So how must state government adjust to meet the new challenges? Already governors are grappling with this issue. Almost every state has an internal process underway to examine how to cut costs, and several states have created formal task forces or commissions to look at cost- savings and streamlining. Most efforts start by exploring the traditional tools of budget cutting: targeted and across-the-board program cuts, reductions to local aid, layoffs, benefit cuts, furloughs, and salary reductions. In today’s environment, however, states quickly find that these options do not shift the cost curve sufficiently, and they must look at actions that change the way government does business.

Additional steps that are being considered or undertaken today include:

•    Selling state assets (such as surplus equipment and state office buildings);

•    Consolidating data centers and IT functions;

•    Coordinating purchases across agencies;

•    Consolidating state real estate management into one entity and conducting a review of
real estate holdings and leasing arrangement; and

•    Reorganizing and combining agencies."

Profound Changes in State Government

Thomasian writes,  "The current fiscal crisis has spawned a new round of state performance reviews, many of which will yield profound changes in the services state government delivers. This period of government downsizing and streamlining may be a protracted one, ending only when state budget health is restored. The delicate balance will be maintaining those services that help the state prosper, while eliminating those that produce the least value."  (Emphasis added)

The challenge is that most of our legislators are reluctant to cut government programs.  Segments of the voting community also want their favored programs protected.  We may see a historic shrinking of state government if our legislators and voters reset budgets as circumstances dictate.

Those in favor of smaller government will be tested and have an opportunity to influence this process.

This "reset" of state government will affect all areas of lifestyle including education, jobs and safety. The big question yet to be answered is:  "Will people be happier with a smaller state government that taxes less and provides less services?"

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

Kansas: Shortfall may delay income 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




Smoking States and Tobacco Producing States

Smoking has been on a long term decline in the U.S.

Total smokers in the U.S. according to Americas Health Rankings Assessment on Smoking have declined from 29.5% in 1990 to 18.3% in 2009.  Smokers as a per cent of the U.S. population have shrunk 38% since 1990. 

Americas Health Rankings also does a great job in providing statistics for each of the states.  Smoking trends by State have some interesting aspects not quickly seen by observing the data.

The Best and Worst States 2009 Smokers by State map highlights high smoking and low smoking states.  It is listed below:


State Smoking Population Map

From the map it is readily apparent that the mid west and southern states have the strongest affinity for smoking. 

The Best State for Non-Smokers, i.e. lowest smoking population, is Utah.  Only 9.3% of the Utah population smokes.  Additional Top States for Non-Smokers are California, New Jersey, Maryland and Hawaii.

The Best State for Smokers, i.e. the highest smoking population, is West Virginia with 26.5% of its population smokers.  Over one in four people over 18 smoke in West Virginia.  Additional Top States for Smokers are Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri and Oklahoma.  Nevada had the highest smoking population in 1990 at 35.7% according to Americas Health.  Nevada's smoking population has since declined to 22.1%, a dramatic decline.

The entire 2009 list of Smokers by State is published below.

The populations of tobacco producing states are above average smokers.  It seems logical.  If a state produces lots of tobacco,  its population is more likely to smoke.  The chart of Top Producing Tobacco States supports this contention.   North Carolina has the most tobacco acreage by far and ranks as the 14th highest smoking state.  Kentucky, the 2nd largest tobacco producer, ranks 3 in the nation for highest per cent of its population being smokers.  Virginia and Connecticut appear to be outliers.  Virginia is the third largest producer yet its population ranks 40th in the nation for smoking.  Connecticut is the 9th largest producer of tobacco yet its smoking population is 44th or ranked 7th lowest state for smokers.  All the other Top Tobacco Producing States have above average smoking populations. 

The Top Ten Tobacco Producing States are listed below along with their Smoker Rank.

Top Ten Tobacco Producing States

List of Smoking Population by State


If you consider smoking or non-smoking an important aspect of lifestyle, this info may help you find a state that fits your needs.  It might help you determine your Best State to Live.

Becker Blocked: Blow to Unionism

Craig Becker's nomination to the National Labor Relations Board was blocked by the Senate today.  The vote was 52-33.  Sixty votes were needed to pass his nomination.  This is a blow to the Obama administration and the union movement as Becker was considered very pro union.  Politico today reported that the battle may not be over as Democrats and union leaders will be pressing President Obama to make a recess appointment.  See Senate Stops Craig Becker




Objection to Becker also stems from the opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act which if enacted would make it easier for unions to organize. Many senators are also concerned about the possible elimination of secret personal voting.  If the Obama adminstration is committed to job growth, it might want to reconsider these positions.  We have recently written on this.  See Does Increased Unionism lead to more Unemployment?


Stay tuned the battle is not over.  Just stalled for now.

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.
 

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



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




















    
      
      
      
      
      

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