Is your state a drag on the American economy or a boon? The 50 states — as diverse as they are — each contribute something to the U.S. economy. Because of their diversity, state economies rarely trend in unison. GDP growth is often the default measure for economic strength, but it often fails to tell the whole story. Unemployment, poverty, job growth, and education among other factors can also play a part in defining the strength of an economy.
Economic vitality is as much about growth as it is about the state’s ability to support its population — with jobs, education, economic opportunities and more. In turn, employed, better-paid, and better-educated residents of a state further contribute to economic growth.
> 2016 GDP: $692.45 billion (5th largest)
> 5 yr. GDP annual growth rate: 1.0% (tied–16th smallest growth)
> Unemployment: 4.6% (16th highest)
> 5 yr. annual employment growth: 1.1% (16th slowest growth)
Dragged down recently by the government and manufacturing sectors, GDP growth in Illinois has been sluggish. The government sector is bogged down in gridlock, unable to pass a budget since 2015, while manufacturing in the state has been affected by the familiar forces of automation and outsourcing. The total value of goods and services in the state grew by only about 1.0% in each of the last five years, about half the national GDP growth rate. Total employment increased at a similarly slow pace. Partially as a result, 4.6% of workers in Illinois are looking for a job, a slightly larger share than the 4.3% U.S. unemployment rate.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed economic growth, poverty, unemployment, job growth, and college attainment rates nationwide to compare and rank each state’s economy. As a result, the best ranked states tend to have fast-growing economies, low poverty and unemployment, high job growth, and a relatively well-educated workforce, while the opposite is generally the case among states with the worst ranked economies.