For our recent ranking of the state economies, we took six measures of economic health. We ranked the states on each of those measures, and then took the average of those rankings to get a composite index.
Here are the sources for each of our measures:
- Change in house prices: This measure, showing the year-over-year per cent change in housing prices between Q3 2013 and Q3 2014, comes from the most recent report on house prices from the Federal Housing Finance Agency.
- Change in nonfarm payroll jobs: Nonfarm payroll jobs are released monthly by the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics program. Included in the most recent release were the number of nonfarm payroll jobs in December 2013 and in December 2014 in each state, and we used those to calculate the year-over-year per cent change in jobs over that period.
- Unemployment rate: The Local Area Unemployment Statistics program also publishes the unemployment rate for each state on a monthly basis. The most recent release included the December 2014 unemployment rates.
- State GDP per capita: The Bureau of Economic Analysis releases annual estimates of state gross domestic product, and we combined the 2013 estimates with the Census Bureau’s estimates of each state’s population on July 1, 2013, to get a measure of GDP per capita.
- Average weekly wage: Each state’s average weekly wage is estimated in the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages program. We used data from Q2 2014, the most recently available release.
- State government surplus or deficit: We took each state’s 2013 total revenue and total expenses from the Census Bureau’s annual survey of state government finances and subtracted expenses from revenue to get an estimate of each state government’s fiscal situation.
To give a little extra context to each state’s economic situation, we looked at the Fortune 500 companies headquartered in each state, helpfully assembled into a table by GeoLounge. We also looked deeper into the Q2 2014 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data to see what industries (defined by three-digit NAICS codes) had a disproportionately large share of employment in each state according to their location quotients.
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