Sunday

The best of times, the worst of times


Think you live in the state with the worst economy? Think again.

Everyone seems to know that California is in the biggest economic trouble, with an economy in the dumpster, high unemployment, and no easy way to fix any of it. What may surprise many is not California. It’s the other states that are so very close to their own economic abyss.

There’s a new study out that has looked at the economy of all 50 states and ranked them.

The PEW Charitable Trusts has crunched state numbers for more than a decade, with a goal of making state governments stronger in order to improve the services we all get for our tax dollars. Part of that includes reporting on the bad times and, as we all know, we are now in a blockbuster bad time.

They looked at numerous factors to come up with a scorecard for each state: foreclosures, budget gaps, loss of revenue, unemployment, how easy or hard it is for each state to raise its taxes in order to cover shortfalls, etc.

With a “30" score being the worst and a lower score being better, here’s the “top 10" of the worst state economies, in order: California, Arizona, Rhode Island, Michigan, Oregon, Nevada, Florida, New Jersey, Illinois, and Wisconsin.

Wyoming, Nebraska and Iowa scored the best.

So where does your state fit? Ohio is almost the center of the list while Georgia’s budget gap put it just a hair behind the auto belt states of Michigan-Wisconsin-Illinois by one point.

The worst ten states account for nearly a third of the US population and economy, which is why those states in particular matter to all of us.

What the study shows is just how much farther the US economy has to go, although there are bright spots of how hard some states are trying. Wyoming, for instance, had a 19.7% drop in revenue but managed to come with 2% of balancing its budget.

We’ll all get through this as the economy starts to get better and better, but if history has shown anything, it’ll be a longer road than anyone wants it to be.