Here's how we ranked the state economies

Levantine Films

In our ranking of the economies of the states and DC, we looked at six measures of economic health.

Each measure was rescaled to allow us to compare them to one another. Technically, we calculated z-scores for each state on each measure, which rescales each variable based on its average and standard deviation.

To make the combined ranking, we added together the six indicator z-scores for each state to create an overall economic index.

Here are the sources for each of our measures:

  • December 2017 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 nonfarm payroll jobs, December 2016-November 2017: We calculated the rate of increase or decrease in nonfarm payrolls, also taken from the Local Area Unemployment Statistics data.
  • Q3 2017 GDP per capita: Every quarter, the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases its estimates of the GDP of each state and DC. We used this and the Census Bureau’s estimates for the July 1, 2017, population of each state to calculate GDP per person.
  • Q3 2017 GDP growth: The BEA also releases estimates of GDP growth for the states and DC every quarter in the above release.
  • December 2017 average weekly wage: We took this from the Bureau of Labour Statistics’ State and Metro Area Employment, Hours and Earnings program.
  • Change in average weekly wage, December 2016-December 2017: This also came from the State and Metro Area Employment, Hours, and Earnings program.

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