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Analysis Website Ranks Best- and Worst-Run States in U.S.

Factors include state debt and unemployment rates, as well as population poverty and education levels.

Wyoming and California were respectively named the best- and worst-run states in the U.S. this year, according to a new study.

24/7 Wall St., a Delaware-based corporation that focuses on producing online financial news and opinions, released the study on its website this week.

The study, Best and Worst Run States in America — An Analysis of All 50,  dissects a collection of data including each state’s debt per capita, the percentage of the state population without health insurance, the percentage of the population below the poverty line as well as unemployment rates and other statistical data. Washington, D.C., however, was not included in the study.  

Wyoming came out on top overall by having a state debt per capita of $2,452 — the 18th lowest in the state. Massachusetts ranked the highest in this category with a debt per capita of $11,357.

Findings also showed that only 14.9 percent of the Wyoming’s population didn’t have health insurance, only 10.3 percent was classified as living below the poverty line and unemployment was at 5.8 percent — the sixth lowest in the nation.

The state also topped all other states in percentage of state residents age 25 or older who have at least a high school diploma with 92.3 percent, the study reported. Wyoming was also recorded having the fourth lowest violent crime rate.

Contrary to Wyoming, California was ranked the worst-run state of all 50 states. The state bottomed out with a state debt per capital of $3,660 — the 21st highest in the nation. The state also ranked poorly with 18.5 percent of the state’s population without health insurance and 14.5 percent below the poverty line, according to the study. California’s unemployment rate ranked second highest in the nation at 11.9 percent (Nevada ranked the highest with 13.4 percent.

In fiscal 2009, California spent $430 billion, about 14 percent of all the money spent by states in that year, the study reported. In addition, California has the second lowest percentage of adults who have earned a high school diploma in the nation.

The complete list (from best to worst) is as follows:

1. Wyoming
2. Nebraska
3. North Dakota
4. Minnesota
5. Iowa
6. Utah
7. Vermont
8. Virginia
9. Kansas
10. South Dakota
11. Maryland
12. Hawaii
13. New Hampshire
14. Maine
15. Pennsylvania
16.  Wisconsin
17. Washington
18. Alaska
19. North Carolina
20. Missouri
21. Delaware
22. Connecticut
23. Indiana
24. Ohio
25. Texas
26. Idaho
27. Montana
28. Oklahoma
29. Tennessee
30. Massachusetts
31. Oregon
32. Georgia
33. Colorado
34. New York
35. Arkansas
36. Alabama
37. New Jersey
38. Mississippi
39. West Virginia
40. Florida
41. New Mexico
42. Louisiana
43. Rhode Island
44. Kentucky
45. South Carolina
46. Nevada
47. Arizona
48. Michigan
49. Illinois
50. California


Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.