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24/7 Wall Street Ranking of All 50 States: North Dakota Is Tops, Pity Poor California

By John Morgan   |   Monday, 25 Nov 2013 12:59 PM

24/7 Wall Street released its annual study of all 50 states to determine how well-run they are, looking at financial conditions, quality of services and residents' standard of living.

The conclusion was that North Dakota is the best-run state, while oft-scorned California came in dead last for the third straight year.

The most poorly run states tended to have higher budget shortfalls and lower credit ratings. The better-run states were more likely to have fully-funded pensions, lower public debt and smaller budget deficits.

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“The states that were well-managed also tended to have lower unemployment rates. Eight of the 10 states with the lowest unemployment rates ranked as the best-run states,” 24/7 Wall Street said. “California, Illinois, and Nevada — the states with the highest unemployment rates as of 2012 — were among the five worst-run states.”

24/7 Wall Street’s said its data review came from dozens of sources, and included states’ debt, revenue, expenditures, taxes, exports, GDP growth, poverty, income, employment, school graduation rate, crime and foreclosure rates.

Many of the best-run states benefited from natural resources, including North Dakota, Wyoming, Alaska and Texas. The housing collapse had a major adverse impact on some of the worst-run states, such as Arizona, California and Nevada.

“While these can be considered extenuating circumstances, the fact is that each state must deal with the cards it is dealt,” 24/7 Wall Street said. “Governments must plan for worst-case scenarios, including the collapse of an industry.”

“Several resource-rich states have squandered their advantages and rank poorly on our list. Good governance involves raising and spending enough to provide for the well-being of the population without risking the state’s long-term stability.”

The top 10 best-run states, in 24/7 Wall Street’s estimation, started with number 1 North Dakota, followed in order by Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, Utah, Vermont, Minnesota, Alaska, South Dakota and Texas.

The 10 worst-run states, started with number 50 California, followed by New Mexico, Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, Arizona, Louisiana, New Jersey, South Carolina and Connecticut.

Whether a state is well-run does not necessarily mean it is the best state to retire in. An analysis by Moneyrates.com, using criteria such as taxes, crime, cost of living and life expectancy, found that among the best states to retire in are Idaho, Iowa, Hawaii, South Dakota, Oregon and Florida. Among the worst ones were judged to be Illinois, Alaska, Nevada, Mississippi and Louisiana.

Whether a state is well-run also does not necessarily mean it provides the best public education. Business Insider reported the states with the best eighth-grade test scores were Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, New Jersey and New Hampshire. The worst ones were judged to be Alabama, Mississippi, District of Columbia, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

Editor’s Note: 5 Phases of a ‘Retirement Heist’ Exposed (See Video)

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