The States With the Best Economic Growth

Where Should Millennials Live for the Most Successful 2018?

In the late 2000s a great recession hit the American economy and all 50 states were affected. Unemployment rocketed, GDP crashed, and successful new businesses became few and far between.

The recession has officially been over since mid-2009, but some states are recovering better than others.

At Expert Market we researched the growth/decline in the 5 years following the end of the recession of 6 key factors;

Factor Details
Unemployment All 50 states decreased unemployment over the years 2010-2015. Utah had the biggest change 15.12% and Louisiana had the least 0.36%.
GDP per capita 43 states saw a rise in GDP, North Dakota had the biggest growth 4.54% while Wyoming saw the biggest drop -1.45%.
Startup density 37 states grew the rate of new businesses over 5 years. North Dakota by the most 5.56%. 13 states saw a loss in density, with Louisiana’s the worst at -1.45%.
House value House values increased in 42 states, the highest increase of 7.63% was Nevada. The highest loss in value was 6.44% in Maine.
New entrepreneurs Only 17 states saw a rise in the amount of people opening their own business. Hawaii saw the biggest rise 6.62% while Georgia saw the biggest decline 12.56%.
Household income All states saw an increase in average household income over 2010-2015. North Dakota had the biggest increase 4.10% and Nevada saw the smallest change 0.75%.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Kauffman Index and property experts Zillow, we ranked each state by the percentage growth or decline in each factor over the years 2010-2015.

Combining these rankings gave us an overall look into which states have bounced back and now offer great opportunities for those looking to start or grow their careers.

The Top 10

Here are the top 10 states that you should consider moving to if you are hoping for a bright and successful future;

State Overall Ranking Unemployment House Value New Entrepreneurs GDP per Capita Startup Density Household Income
North Dakota 1st 43rd 5th 23rd 1st 1st 1st
Oklahoma 2nd 26th 16th 11th 2nd 20th 2nd
Texas 3rd 14th 11th 21st 3rd 19th 15th
Michigan 4th 2nd 7th 15th 6th 14th 46th
California 5th 20th 2nd 36th 5th 7th 28th
Montana 6th 24th 32nd 17th 10th 12th 4th
Ohio 7th 4th 27th 28th 4th 17th 22nd
Washington 8th 19th 12th 25th 19th 15th 13th
Minnesota 9th 5th 15th 13th 8th 40th 24th
Massachusetts 10th 29th 13th 19th 21st 11th 17th

North Dakota

North Dakota
Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 7.42% 43rd
Rise in House Value 5.77% 5th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs -0.86% 23rd
GDP per Capita Growth 4.54% 1st
Rise in Startup Density 5.56% 1st
Household Income Increase 4.10% 1st

The Peace Garden State on the northern border of the United States and Canada has been anything but sleepy in the years since the recession. A huge surge in oil extraction has seen their GDP rise by 4.54% per capita – far more than any other state. New business density and household income have also both risen here more than anywhere else. Unemployment has decreased but at a slower pace than many other states at only 7.72% – 8th lowest across the country.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 10.22% 26th
Rise in House Value 2.66% 16th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs 1.48% 11th
GDP per Capita Growth 2.45% 2nd
Rise in Startup Density 0.60% 20th
Household Income Increase 2.45% 2nd

Another state with huge growth in GDP and household income, Oklahoma scored in the top half for every single category. Lower scores for startup density and house values stopped them from grabbing the top spot – despite scoring 17 places higher than North Dakota for a 10.22% decrease in unemployment.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 11.73% 14th
Rise in House Value 3.96% 11th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs -0.74% 21st
GDP per Capita Growth 2.32% 3rd
Rise in Startup Density 0.79% 19th
Household Income Increase 1.94% 15th

A 2.32% rise in GDP and 3.96% house value increase over 5 years secures Texas a place in the top 3. Housing a tech hub like Austin means it's no surprise that the biggest state scored well for reducing unemployment too, an 11.73% drop put them in 14th place.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 14.92% 2nd
Rise in House Value 4.57% 7th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs 0.92% 15th
GDP per Capita Growth 1.58% 6th
Rise in Startup Density 0.97% 14th
Household Income Increase 1.34% 46th

It's not all lying around on boats in Michigan! In fact, the Great Lakes State has been working hard since the recession, reducing unemployment by an impressive 14.92% – second highest of any state, just behind Utah’s incredible 15.12% drop. Whist it has risen by 1.34%, household income has not been growing as quickly in Michigan as most other states, they ranked 5th worst for this factor.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 10.73% 20th
Rise in House Value 6.19% 2nd
Rate of New Entrepreneurs -2.49% 36th
GDP per Capita Growth 1.70% 5th
Rise in Startup Density 1.16% 7th
Household Income Increase 1.69% 28th

Property prices have always been high in California, but anyone who owns a home there should be very happy with the 6.19% increase in house values over the past 5 years. California has also seen big growth in GDP per capita and startup density, ranking 5th and 7th respectively, perhaps in part due to the huge amount of new companies appearing in Silicon Valley every year.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 10.30% 24th
Rise in House Value 0.95% 32nd
Rate of New Entrepreneurs 0.06% 17th
GDP per Capita Growth 1.36% 10th
Rise in Startup Density 1.04% 12th
Household Income Increase 2.35% 4th

A 4th place score for rise in household income (2.35%), along with average to good scores across the board sees Montana just outside the top 5 but still firmly within the top 10. Having only a small rise in house values (0.95%) let them down and saw them place 32nd for that metric – still better than the 8 states that actually saw a loss in property values over the 5 years.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 14.06% 4th
Rise in House Value 1.34% 27th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs -1.44% 28th
GDP per Capita Growth 2.03% 4th
Rise in Startup Density 0.86% 17th
Household Income Increase 1.79% 22nd

Impressive 4th place rankings for both unemployment decrease (14.06%) and GDP per capita growth (2.03%), combined with average scores for all other factors, brought up the overall ranking of Ohio to 7th place.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 10.99% 19th
Rise in House Value 3.56% 12th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs -1.07% 25th
GDP per Capita Growth 0.86% 19th
Rise in Startup Density 0.91% 15th
Household Income Increase 1.95% 13th

Washington, DC may have the White House, but Washington state in the north western corner of the US has strong economic growth, so who’s the real winner? Scoring within the top half for all factors gave the Evergreen State a place firmly within the top 10.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 13.56% 5th
Rise in House Value 2.70% 15th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs 1.00% 13th
GDP per Capita Growth 1.51% 8th
Rise in Startup Density -0.21% 40th
Household Income Increase 1.78% 24th

Bordering 1st place North Dakota, Minnesota has had the 5th highest decrease in unemployment (13.56%) since the recession ended. This large northern state also showed an impressive growth in GDP but was let down by their 0.21% loss in startup density, placing them among the 13 states that saw a loss in new business opening rates.


Category % Change 2010-2015 Ranking
Unemployment Growth 9.84% 29th
Rise in House Value 2.92% 13th
Rate of New Entrepreneurs -0.33% 19th
GDP per Capita Growth 0.84% 21st
Rise in Startup Density 1.09% 11th
Household Income Increase 1.87% 17th

Rounding out our top 10 is the home of MIT. As Boston is one of the top 10 tech hubs to live in, it is no surprise that MA saw a healthy 1.09% rise in startup density, placing them 11th for that category and 10th overall.

The Bottom 10

State Overall Ranking Unemployment House Value New Entrepreneurs GDP per Capita Startup Density Household Income
New York 41st 41st 41st 20th 27th 47th 14th
Vermont 42nd 31st 46th 26th 25th 42nd 20th
Mississippi 43rd 37th 45th 27th 38th 44th 7th
West Virginia 44th 47th 38th 29th 29th 46th 10th
Arkansas 45th 45th 26th 48th 15th 37th 29th
Georgia 46th 35th 18th 50th 24th 34th 40th
Arizona 47th 23rd 4th 44th 43rd 41st 47th
Maine 48th 32nd 50th 34th 46th 36th 19th
New Mexico 49th 48th 49th 45th 33rd 21st 36th
Louisiana 50th 50th 33rd 47th 49th 50th 41st

New York ranked in the top half of states for a few factors but a very low score for startup density growth sees them starting off our bottom 10. The highest individual rank of any state within the bottom 10 was Arizona’s impressive 5.88% increase in house values which saw them in 4th place for that category. Unfortunately, poor scores across the rest of the board, particularly for household income and rate of new entrepreneurs means they sit firmly within the bottom 10.

However, just because a state ranked in the bottom 10 does not mean that there is no economic growth there. For example, Louisiana ranked in bottom place for reducing unemployment – even though unemployment did drop there by 0.36%. Louisiana actually saw positive growth in 3 out of 6 categories, so if your state is close to the bottom it doesn’t necessarily mean that their economy is dwindling – it may just not be growing quite as fast as in other states.