Nutmeg Neighbor Cited As Best State Economy In Nation

By Mitchell Young

BakerMA Malloy CROP

Republican Governor Charley Baker is riding the Baystate’s No. 1 economy to a 74% approval rating.

Connecticut Governor Malloy has the lowest voter approval in the country at 29%

According to GoverningMagazine, which is reaching its 30th year of publication about the nation’s state and local government officials. High taxes, high energy costs, liberal government, and a very high cost of living aren’t the obstacles to a good economy that many in business might think. The magazine chose ultra blue, high tax, high cost of living, high energy costs, overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts as the best state economy in the US. Not surprising, the magazine said how much citizens think of their “chief executive” [Governor] is directly related to that ranking.

The current governor, Charlie Baker, is a Republican [liberal for certain] and approved of by 74% of the Commonwealth’s citizens. 

Connecticut’s economy is ranked 42nd by the magazine and the public apparently blames Governor Dannel Malloy, who gets the lowest rating of any governor in the country at 29%. In fact, no other state chief executive comes close to the polled unpopularity
of Malloy.

The once booming state of Arizona, which comes in on the economy scale just one spot ahead of Connecticut, still shows a 45% [popularity] for Governor Doug Ducey. Voters in West Virginia, at the bottom of the economic pack, are not blaming their governor, who has a 60% approval rating.

Fodder for politicians is that the top performing state economies are mostly blue [liberal] or purple states. With only a few exceptions, Connecticut being one at the bottom of the heap, are the red states of Alabama, Arizona, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

Pennsylvania, which has the potential to swing the presidential election, has an economy that is not faring well and is ranked at 37th.


 1. Massachusetts

 2. Oregon

 3. Delaware

 4. Colorado

 5. California

 6. Tennessee

 7.  New Hampshire

 8.  Utah

 9.  Virginia

10. Maryland

11. North Carolina

12. Hawaii

13. Florida

14. Idaho

15. Georgia

15. Minnesota

15. Nebraska

15. South Dakota

19. Arkansas

20. Wisconsin

21. Texas

22. Washington

23. Michigan

24. New Jersey

25. Vermont

26. South Carolina

27. Indiana

28. Maine

29. New York

30. Ohio

31. Montana

32. Missouri

33. Nevada

34. Illinois

35. Rhode Island

36. Iowa

37. Kentucky

38. Kansas

39. Pennsylvania

40. North Dakota

41. Arizona

42. Connecticut

43. Alabama

44. Oklahoma

45. Mississippi

46. Louisiana

47. New Mexico

48. Wyoming

49. Alaska

49. West Virginia


To determine which states are doing well and which aren’t, Governing looked at six data points from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis:  state unemployment rate; the improvement in unemployment in the past year; per capita state GDP in 2015;  change in GDP between 2014 and 2015; the percent change in state personal income per capita, from the third quarter of 2015 to the first quarter of 2016; and the percentage growth in year-to-date increases in jobs for 2016.

State economies are moving targets, only two of the top 10 states in the magazine’s 2013 survey, Oregon and Utah, made it to the top ten in 2016. Connecticut, Mississippi and New Mexico, were in the bottom in 2013 and still are.

In ranking a governor’s popularity, the magazine used the results of a 50-state series of gubernatorial approval polls conducted by the online publication Morning Consult between January and May of 2016 and “spot-checked” other gubernatorial approval polls in the past eight months.

The approval ratings for governors of the top 10 states averaged 62.1%, while the gubernatorial approval ratings for those in the bottom 10 averaged 50.8 %.

No governor in the top 10 states had an approval rating lower than 54%, while six of the governors in the bottom 10 states had approval ratings below 50 percent and one – Malloy, had the aforementioned bottom approval rating of 29%.

The magazine cites Tufts political scientist Jeffrey Berry is quoted by the magazine saying Baystaters understand its not just about the new Governor.

“Baker has been in office less than two years and is seen as a positive for the state’s economy moving forward. The Massachusetts economy is in terrific shape, and it’s poised for continued growth,” Berry added, “most voters know that the state’s positive economy is part of a long-term trend that predates Baker.”

Governing reached out to Malloy’s opposition as well, “in Connecticut, where Malloy has the weakest approval rating, residents, may be divided on Yankees and Red Sox, Giants and Patriots, but they are of one mind on Malloy -- he has been a disaster, said Kevin Rennie, a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator who writes on politics for the Hartford Courant was quoted by Governing.

Voters in other states, however, are somewhat more forgiving as reported by the magazine.

In Louisiana, Edwards was only sworn in earlier this year.

“Voters here have a very recent memory of former Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is given much of the blame for the current state of affairs,” said Pearson Cross, a political scientist at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette.

Louisiana, like other states on the bottom 10 list, has also been heavily influenced by a decline in the energy sector. In addition to Louisiana, today’s bottom 10 includes such energy-dependent states as Alaska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Wyoming. In fact, two of these states -- Alaska and West Virginia -- actually ranked in the top 10 in 2013, before the full force of the energy decline was felt.

Ironically, voters’ understanding of the boom-and-bust patterns in the energy sector may be keeping their governors’ approval ratings higher than they would otherwise be, said several experts.

“Most Alaskans recognize that the state’s heavy dependence on oil production and tax revenues derived from it means that the fiscal health of the state suffers when production is declining and oil prices are low,” said Jerry McBeath, a political scientist at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. “That’s what most would blame for poor economic conditions now.”

Governors and their approval ratings, in
the top 10 state

 Governors and their approval ratings, in 

the bottom 10 states:

1. Massachusetts Charlie Baker (R)  72 %

2. Oregon Kate Brown (D)  54 %
3. Delaware Jack Markell (D)  66 %
4. Colorado John Hickenlooper (D)  60 %
5. California Jerry Brown (D)  57 %
6. Tennessee Bill Haslam (R)  63 %
7. N Hampshire Maggie Hassan (D) 56 %
8. Utah Gary Herbert (R)  64 %
9. Virginia  Terry McAuliffe (D)  58 %
10. Maryland Larry Hogan (R)  71 

41. Arizona  Doug Ducey (R) 49 %
 42. CT  Dannel Malloy (D] 29%
 43. Alabama Robert Bentley (R) 46%
 44. Oklahoma Mary Fallin (R) 42 %
 45. Mississippi Phil Bryant (R) 60 %
 46. Louisiana John Edwards (D) 45 %
 47. N.Mexico Susana Martinez (R) 48 %
 48. Wyoming Matt Mead (R) 67 %
 49. Alaska Bill Walker (I) 62 %
 49. W. Virginia Earl Tomblin (D) 60 %



“For each of the six variables, the states were ranked from 1 to 50, with 1 being the best score for that variable and 50 the worst score. Once the 1 through 50 rankings for all six variables were clear, each state’s ranking was added up, double-weighting two of the six measures -- current unemployment and percent change in real GDP -- that was considered the most important. After adding up each state’s rankings, including the double-weighted ones, it was divided by eight to create an overall average ranking for each state. A rank of 1 in each category would produce an average rating of 1.0, while a rank of 50 would produce an average of 50.0. In reality, no state was perfectly strong or perfectly weak. All states had a mix of rankings, with the rankings for some variables higher than others, so the states’ average rankings ranged between 13.3 and 40.6 rather than 1 to 50.”

The survey and attributions are the product of Governing Magazine, which is available at