Posted by: T. Argerous Filosofos | August 31, 2009

Arizona economy third weakest in US


This Depression that we are in has caused many of the states that were leading the economy in the past to become some of the weakest states in the nation currently. You may be surprised which states are now leading and where the powerhouses of yesteryear are today.

Phoenix Business Journal – by G. Scott Thomas

The recession has turned America’s economy on its head.

High-profile states that led the charge to prosperity earlier in the decade now are among the biggest drags on economic progress. Arizona, Nevada, Florida and California rank among the weakest states today, according to a new bizjournals analysis.

Less populated states, on the other hand, are faring remarkably well in these tough times. North Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Alaska and West Virginia are among the strongest states economically.

Bizjournals analyzed the recent economic records of all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Each state’s results were compared with corresponding national averages in six categories. Above-average performances received positive scores, while below-average numbers drew negative scores.

The study focused on six indicators, using raw data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis and Federal Housing Finance Agency: unemployment rate, nonfarm employment growth, personal income growth, wage growth, home value growth and construction employment growth.

The results indicate bad news for Nevada, Michigan and Arizona, which ranked as the three weakest states in the nation economically. Arizona ranked next to last in job and wage growth, and 48th in home value and income growth.

With a score of minus 9.489, Nevada’s unemployment rate has soared to 12 percent, its job base has shrunk by 6.2 percent and its home values have plummeted 31.1 percent since mid-2008.

Michigan ranks next to last in economic strength, followed by Arizona, Florida and California. These four states lost more than 5 percent of their jobs during the past year. Their wage levels and home values also dropped substantially.

North Dakota, with a score of 7.463, surprisingly emerged as America’s economic powerhouse, ranking first in bizjournals’ overall standings. It’s the only state with an unemployment rate below 5 percent, and the only one with positive growth rates in all five of the other categories during the past 12 months.

Rounding out the top five are Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Dakota and the District of Columbia. All of these runners-up suffered job losses during the past year, but their income levels are rising (except South Dakota’s) and their home values are holding steady (except D.C.’s).

The population gap between America’s strongest and weakest states is striking. Four of the 10 strongholds have fewer than 1 million residents, but each of the 10 weaklings has more than 2.7 million people.

The following is a rundown of the economic climate in the nation’s four major regions:

West: Alaska (sixth) didn’t add or lose any jobs during the past year. That somewhat upbeat news is offset by the collapses in Nevada (51st), Arizona (49th), California (47th) and Oregon (44th). However, all four have lost more than 5 percent of their jobs since mid-2008.

East: Only two Eastern entries are in the top 10: the District of Columbia (fifth) and West Virginia (seventh). The latter is a surprise, as West Virginia usually can be found at the tail end of economic standings. Connecticut (42nd) is the weakest in the East.

South: Southern states became accustomed to prosperity during the past quarter-century. A few — not the usual suspects — still are doing reasonably well: Louisiana (second), Oklahoma (third) and Arkansas (eighth). At the bottom of the regional list is Florida (48th), which is saddled with double-digit unemployment.

Midwest: The western tier of Midwestern states is the strongest: North Dakota (first), South Dakota (fourth), Nebraska (ninth) and Kansas (21st). The economy gets weaker as you move eastward through the region, culminating with Ohio (46th) and Michigan (50th). The latter has an unemployment rate of 15.2 percent, the worst in any state since 1984.

G. Scott Thomas is projects editor at Buffalo Business First, a sister publication.
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