The 5 Best-Run and 5 Worst-Run States in America

Park City Utah

For John and Jane Citizen, residents of the Great State of Wherever, it can be tough to gauge just how well their state government is performing. We don't get quarterly earnings reports from the governor; there's no stock ticker to follow; and we can only live in one place at a time, so there aren't many opportunities to compare and contrast.

24/7 Wall St. is here to help. Each year, it conducts an extensive survey of all 50 states, reviewing a raft of data on financial health, standards of living, government services and more to determine how well each one is managed.

It's a complex equation -- and one that's far from being entirely under the control of your current elected officials. States with abundant natural resources (lately, think oil and natural gas reserves) should have an easier time balancing their budgets than those that lack them. Regional problems or national shifts can destroy local economies. And some states' current problems are the result of decisions made years ago.

That said, it's the responsibility of each state government to manage its affairs with the resources at its disposal, and some states are doing that much better than others.

These are the best- and worst-run states in America.


24/7 Wall St. considered data from a number of sources, including Standard & Poor's, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, the Tax Foundation, RealtyTrac, The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Conference of State Legislators.
Unemployment data was taken from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Credit ratings were from ratings agencies S&P and Moody's. We relied on the FBI's Uniform Crime Report for violent crime rate by state and large metropolitan areas. RealtyTrac provided foreclosure rates.

A significant amount of the data we used came from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Data from ACS included percentage of residents below the poverty line, high school completion for those 25 and older, median household income, percentage of the population without health insurance and the change in median home values from 2006 to 2011. These are the values we used in our ranking.

Once we reviewed the sources and compiled the final metrics, we ranked each state based on its performance in all the categories. All data are for the full year 2011, with the exception of debt per capita, obtained from the Tax Foundation, and state budgetary data, which came from the U.S. Census Bureau, and is for fiscal year 2010. New to this year's study was our more detailed review of state industry for 2011, from the the Bureau of Economic Analysis, exports per capita for 2011, from the Census Bureau, and the 2010 tax burden and the current tax business climate, from the Tax Foundation.

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I am the only one that is tired of AOL advertising a list and you have to go thru 1 slide at a time. Give me the damn list all at once. I have almost stopped checking if it is on AOL

December 06 2012 at 12:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

After growing up in NJ and living there most of my life, I knew for sure it would be on the worst run list and lo and behold, I was right! Sure 12% income paid in taxes, but what about the countless tix NJSP and the rest of their poorly run police depts give out? EVERYONE who drives gets tix in NJ. The state keeps its useless speed limit unrealistically low at 55 so they can instantly raise money for just about any township. Tolls? Cameras there too. Got yer money! What about the cost of the apt rent there? We're talking easily $1000-1100/ mo for dilapitated complexes totally outdated with nothing included. Pool? Pay membership fees for that. Washer and dryer, and dishwasher? Not allowed. Central air? Yeah right. Carpeting? Forget about it! Handgun permits? Not allowed to defend yourself. Only the criminals have guns. Death penalty? Sorry. Pedophiles' and murderers' rights are more important than your children's lives. School system? Hopelessly outdated. Job situtation? Half of the population travels to NY for a reason. Car insurance? How's paying $1400/yr for a 12 yr old car sound? Got tix too? That'll be an extra $250. Wanna see a Devils game? Better plan on paying at least $150 for 2 tix. Giants tix? No chance. Only the season tix holders can buy extras. The list goes on and on..........It's no wonder I moved out!

December 05 2012 at 9:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The five worst run states are all blue. The five best run states are either red or purple. Hmmm........

December 05 2012 at 11:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have been in California since 1966. Wow, what a change. California is one F-ed up state for a few simple reasons. It is now a one-party state and just one very small step away from becoming a people's republic. You cannot be a sanctuary for every illegal alien in the United States and expect to survive. The state has been over-run with basically Mexican illegal aliens who have brought their culture of corruption with them. Look at the ethnicities of 3/4 of the targets of public corruption - surprise, surprise, surprise ... Mexican! The state is run, to its detriment by public employee unions. None of the geniuses running the state or even the courts have figured out that public employee unions are incompatible with a representative democracy. I have been to many Western States. When, for example, you go into a Utah government building for services, there attitude is how can we help you. When you go into a California government for California services, their attitude is to give you the middle finger and to say ask why you are bothering them. I could go on the California is the worst for very good reasons - it deserves it.

December 03 2012 at 10:26 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Unfortunately you use a picture of Mt Rushmore, which is located in SOUTH Dakota

December 01 2012 at 2:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Cal. Should be at the top.

This State is just one big joke...
An Illegal Alien's Guide to the Top Five Best Places to Live In America

Published June 29, 2011When “relocating” to the United States, it’s best to avoid states that have selfishly put the interests of their legal residents ahead of yours with laws that hinder your access to jobs and benefits. But many attractive destinations remain, endorsed by millions of illegal aliens already living in each.

1. California

California’s state motto “Eureka” (I have found it!) aptly applies here. The state's population includes 3.2 million illegal aliens -- almost 24% of all illegal aliens in America -- have chosen the Golden State as their preferred domicile.

Despite its $26 billion budget deficit, the state spends $21.5 billion dollars annually subsidizing illegal alien health care, education, welfare, other state benefits and criminal justice. Every California native-born household chips in $2438 each year to help.
Unless you commit a violent felony, the state leaves you alone. Los Angeles Special Order 40 – a sanctuary policy that sets the tone statewide - prevents local officers from inquiring about your immigration status.

December 01 2012 at 2:39 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Who cares?? Worst run state?? How about the states who cater to all the illegal leaches who keep ******* the life blood from those who try and make ends meet? Yes lets just open up the borders and give free welfare to all who need it. The US will just borrow more money from China to insure they live the good life.Just like this ungrateful leach who is so busy pumping out anchor baby's she doesn't have time to learn to speak English..

How nice for her and her herd of 6 anchor babies. I bet she also is one of those nice law abiding illegal's who get a big fat tax refund for pumping out kids. plus now that she can stay she will go on SSI for her bad back due to all the kids she has burdened the tax payers with..
It still is funny how these people love this country so much be refuse to learn to speak English even after being here for over 20 years..

Woman wins appeal to stay in US hours after giving birth to 6th anchor baby..

Serrano's lawyer says "the judge determined there was the required amount of hardship to grant the case".

Attorney Chris Greene says the hardship "was her children. One of her children has a medical condition that requires tax payer funded surgery. In the aggregate the Judge determined that that was exceptional, extremely unusual - which is required in these cases". appeal to stay in US hours after giving birth to 6th child

During an interview in her hospital room at Caromont Health Gaston Memorial Hospital - and through a hospital interpreter - Serrano said she was in a lot pain and could barely walk after delivering baby boy. Jayden.

Did you know that illegal immigrants all over the United States are using a massive scam to receive tax refunds from the federal government that are often in excess of $10,000? It is estimated that 2 million illegal immigrants are filing fraudulent tax returns each year and that they are pulling in more than 4 billion dollars in tax refunds every year that they are not entitled to. They are doing this by abusing the additional child tax credit and the IRS knows all about it and yet they refuse to do anything to stop it. Illegal immigrants are filing tax returns that sometimes claim 10 or 12 nieces and nephews as dependents, and most of the time those nieces and nephews do not even live in the United States. So while you and I are being taxed into oblivion, many illegal immigrants are often pulling in tax refunds that are well into five figures. At a time when the federal government is absolutely drowning in debt, this is the type of fraud that desperately needs to be cracked down on.

December 01 2012 at 2:35 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

North Dakota or South Dakota, eith the name or the photo is incorrect .... Come on folks!

December 01 2012 at 2:30 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

North Dakota does not need federal money taken from other states. Nor does the other well run states. Look at the demographics of the last election, the cities with the highest crime rates are not in well run states. These are facts not made up numbers. Our troops are safer in Afganistan than on the streets of Detroit and other ciites run by a certain party. Those out there that do not believe this, just go ahead take a walk-about in some of these cities. Start with Washaington D.C.. Be sure to make it a late night walk. Then get back to us on how nice it was.

December 01 2012 at 2:22 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

North Dakota with a population 641,600, with the biggest problem being where to drill the next oil well,vs. the state of IL with population withover 13 million of great diversity . A Industrial state where many jobs have gone overseas, the recession and the housing bubble caused by wall steer bankers has devestated IL. worse than many other states. A more fairer comparison would have been if the Wall Street Journal would have compared states with similar populations.

December 01 2012 at 2:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply