States That Grow

Wednesday, 27 Feb 2013 03:14 PM

By Fran Tarkenton

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If something doesn’t work, it won’t continue. Although we may panic about what we perceive as disastrous choices and policies, in time, good policy will drive out bad. We have 50 states, and by watching them to see what is working and what isn’t, we’ll straighten ourselves out.

Right now, we are seeing positive examples in many places. While our economy as a whole is struggling to recover and growing at a snail’s pace, there are some areas that are defying those trends, and finding ways to achieve admirable growth.

Joel Kotkin of the Manhattan Institute describes in his latest report what he calls “America’s Growth Corridors,” regions that are far outpacing national economic trends. They are the Great Plains, the so-called Third Coast along the Gulf of Mexico, the “Intermountain West” between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, and the Southeastern Manufacturing Belt.

What’s going on in these places? First of all, they are growing. Since 2000, Kotkin writes, population growth in these four regions is more than double the average in the rest of the country. With more people being born there and more people moving in, there is a level of dynamism and optimism for the future that you won’t find other places.

Also, these states are creating more jobs. Once again, these regions far surpass the rest of the country. And the Great Plains, Intermountain West, and Third Coast in particular are thriving, creating jobs at a rate 10 times faster than the national average.

There’s no doubt that these jobs and population growth go together — people see where the jobs are, and they go there. But they are then using their human capital, their knowledge and skills and relationships, to create even more jobs.

Overlapping Kotkin’s Growth Corridors are the growing number of Right to Work states.

There are now 24 Right to Work states, with Indiana and Michigan joining the club last year. Right to Work states are doing much better in the modern economy than the old industrial, forced-unionism states.

Private employment has increased much more quickly in Right to Work states, and unemployment rates are much lower. Not only that, but contrary to the fears of Right to Work opponents, wages in Right to Work states are every bit as high or higher than in other states once you factor in the cost of living.

Meanwhile, another group of states have no state income tax and rely on consumption taxes instead, or are reducing their income tax in preparation of possibly abandoning it altogether. These states, once again, are thriving.

Right now, nine states have no income tax. In the last 10 years, these states accounted for 62 percent of all the new jobs in this country! State revenues there are also more stable from year to year, compared with states with the highest income tax rates that live and die on the annual taxable income of a small percentage of residents.

More people. More jobs. More wealth. That’s what America should be about. The results are undeniable, and before long somebody up in Washington is going to notice. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.

Fran Tarkenton is the Founder and CEO of, a web resource for Small Business Advocacy and Education. After his Hall of Fame football career, Fran had a successful career in television and then turned to business. He has founded and built more than 20 successful companies and now spends his time coaching aspiring entrepreneurs. Read more reports from Fran Tarkenton — Click Here Now.

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