National study puts North Dakota on top of list of best-run states; four other Midwest states in top 10

Stateline Midwest ~ December 2012

Five of the nation’s 10 best-run states are in the Midwest, a study by the financial news service 24/7 Wall St. concludes, led by North Dakota and its oil-fueled economic boom.

The state rankings are based on a host of factors, but most center on fiscal and economic conditions — for example, state credit ratings, unemployment rates, GDP growth, and levels of debt relative to personal income and state revenue.

On those measures and others, North Dakota ranks above most or all other states. States with agriculture-driven economies tended to place high on the list, including:

  • Nebraska (ranked third), which has the second-lowest unemployment rate and debt per capita in the country;

  • Iowa, (ranked fifth) which has a low debt burden and a high credit rating; and

  • South Dakota (ranked seventh), which has low taxes and a pension system that is funded at close to 100 percent.

Minnesota rounded out the top-10 list, thanks in large part to that state’s low poverty and crime rates, as well as the relatively high percentage of residents who have health insurance and a high school diploma.