Utah Ranked Fifth ‘Best Managed’ State

Utah is one of the best-managed states in the union, but a new analysis shows it’s not as well-off as North Dakota, Wyoming or even Iowa.

Wall Street 24/7 broke down financial data, standard of living and other factors for all 50 states to find that Utah comes in at #5 on the list. North Dakota, Wyoming, Iowa and Nebraska all did better than the Beehive state.

Why did Utah come in at #5?

> Debt per capita: $2,577 (17th lowest)
> Budget deficit: 8.2% (32nd largest)
> Unemployment: 5.7% (tied-10th lowest)
> Median household income: $57,049 (13th highest)
> Pct. below poverty line: 12.8% (15th lowest)

By several measures, Utah had one of the stronger economies in the country in 2012. The state ranked fifth in exports per capita, and GDP growth was among the highest. The unemployment rate was just 5.7%, compared to a national rate of 8.1%. According to the Tax Foundation, Utah has one of the most business-friendly tax policies in the country. The state’s residents also have a relatively good quality of life. The state was among America’s safest last year, with just 205.8 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. Educational attainment was also strong, with 91% of residents over the age of 25 holding a high school diploma. The state received the top credit rating from both Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, with the latter reasoning that Utah has responsible fiscal management and strong economic fundamentals.

At the bottom of the list were Alabama, Connecticut, South Carolina, New Jersey, Louisiana, Arizona, Nevada, Rhode Island, Illinois, New Mexico and California.

While each state is different, the best-run states share certain characteristics, as do the worst run. For example, the populations of the worse-off states tended to have lower standards of living. Violent crime rates in these states were usually higher and residents were much less likely to have a high school diploma.

The worst-run states also tended to have better fiscal management reflected in higher budget shortfalls and lower credit ratings by Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poors.

The better-run states tended to display stable fiscal management. Pensions were more likely to be fully funded, debt was lower, and budget deficits smaller. Credit ratings agencies also were much more likely to rate the well-run states favorably. Only two poorly run states received a perfect credit rating from either agency. California and Illinois, which are ranked worst and third worst, received the lowest ratings from both agencies.