Some of the states worst hit by the recession are getting far less federal economic-stimulus money per person than states faring better.
Nevada, where unemployment stood at about 10% when the plan was passed, is getting $541 for each resident from the stimulus money allocated so far, a Wall Street Journal analysis found. Wyoming, where the 3.9% jobless rate was the lowest in the country in February, is getting $1,074 per person.
Florida, North Carolina and Oregon are among the other states with relatively low per-capita payouts, despite battling double-digit unemployment. North Dakota and South Dakota, meanwhile, are also receiving large quantities of stimulus money relative to their small populations — even while unemployment remains about half the national average.
Ruger and Sorens present an innovative set of criteria: they not not only rank states according to economic freedom (tax and regulation) but also what they define as personal freedom (including firearms, seatbelt, drug and marriage laws ). Colorado is virtually tied with New Hampshire and South Dakota for number one, New York is 50, with New Jersey, Rhode Island, California and Maryland sitting at the bottom.
Policy makers from states at the bottom might want to consider the reasons for their low rank more closely – New Jersey and California – both suffering unprecedented fiscal and economic crises, have not coincidentally, been losing people in recent years. Both were destination states in the 1960s – business friendly, low tax, and prosperous.
The rankings prompt important questions: Can underperforming states reverse course? And which reforms matter most?