In our ranking of the economies of the states and DC, we looked at seven measures of economic health. Each of the measures was rescaled to allow us to compare them to each other. Technically, we calculated z-scores for each state on each measure. To make the combined ranking, we averaged together the seven indicator z-scores for each state to create an overall economic index.
Here are the sources for each of our measures:
- June 2015 unemployment rate: The most recent unemployment rate for each of the states and DC came from the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics program.
- Per cent change in non-farm payroll jobs, June 2014 – June 2015: We calculated the rate of increase or decrease in non-farm payrolls, also taken from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics data.
- 2014 gross domestic product per capita: Every year, the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases their estimates of the GDP of each state and DC. We used this and the Census Bureau’s estimates for the July 1, 2014 population of each state to calculate GDP per person.
- 2014 GDP growth: This also came from the BEA state GDP estimates.
- Change in housing prices, Q1 2014 – Q1 2015: We used the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s House Price Index for this measure.
- Q4 2014 average weekly wage: We took this from the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
- Change in average weekly wage, Q4 2014 – Q4 2014: This also came from the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages.
To give a little extra context to each state’s economic situation, we looked at the Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in each state. We also looked deeper into the Q4 2014 Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages data to see what industries (defined by five-digit NAICS codes) had a disproportionately large share of employment in each state according to their location quotients.