A relevant state ranking

We have written previously about how irrelevant state business climate rankings are to whether or not a state’s residents are doing well economically. Here about the recent CEOs ranking according to Chief Executive Magazine. And here about the widely publicized Tax Foundation State Business Cost Rankings.

These are the reports that rank Indiana as the best business friendly state in the Great Lakes and Minnesota as the worse. Even though by every measure of economic well being Minnesota has the best Great  Lakes economy and Indiana the worse. How it is that we think the goal is to have a high ranking on business friendly indexes and not on measure of more and better jobs –– the Snyder Administration’s goal –– is hard to figure out.

The rankings that should matter are those that measure how well the people of the state are doing. One such ranking is the Social Science Research Council’s Measure of American report based on the Human Development Index of the United Nations. Its latest report has just been released with data covering the period from 2000 – 2010. It measures “a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living” using data from the statistical agencies of the U.S. government on health, education and economic outcomes. You can read a summary of the report here from MLive. And the full report here.

This is a list we should want Michigan to do well  on. Unfortunately we don’t: ranking 32nd.  The only state whose Human Development score fell between 2000 and 2010.

Who did well? The top 5: Connecticut | Massachusetts | New Jersey | DC | Maryland.

Who didn’t do well? The bottom 5: Alabama | Kentucky | West Virginia | Arkansas | Mississippi.

Not exactly a strong case for “the small government/low tax states do best” mantra we are constantly besieged with.

What about Indiana and Minnesota? Indiana ranks 39th, the worse in the Great Lakes. Minnesota 7th, the best in the Great Lakes. Surprised?


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