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Utah claims top spot in new 50-state rankings showcasing how economic policies attract individuals and job creators

Arlington—Today, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released the 16th edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index, the annual report assessing each state’s competitiveness and economic outlook. The report, which has been used by lawmakers across the states since 2007, is co-authored by Reagan Economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, FreedomWorks Economist Stephen Moore, and ALEC Chief Economist Jonathan Williams.

“Being named the state with the best economic outlook for 16 years running is not an accident,” President J. Stuart Adams says. “In Utah, we have diligently worked to cultivate strong conservative policies that strengthen our workforce and economy.”

Utah has maintained its position as the top-ranked state for economic outlook for 16 years in a row. State leaders and legislators have a strong record of implementing pro-taxpayer reforms in recent years, including the adoption of a flat personal income tax rate, pension reform for its previously endangered system, and an innovative approach to property tax reform.

“Utah is the ultimate success story of Rich States, Poor States,” Williams says. “The secret to the Beehive State’s success is found in the major free-market and pro-taxpayer policy reforms, as well as the state’s continued commitment by leading policymakers to study Utah’s economic resume and stay ahead of the curve.” 

The authors utilize 15 economic policy variables to rank the economic outlook of every state. These variables have proven over time to be influential for state competitiveness and growth. The report highlights that cutting taxes, paying down debt, and maintaining free market policies have significantly helped states attract new residents.

“With no end in sight to the dysfunction in Washington, states are taking matters into their own hands,” added ALEC CEO Lisa B. Nelson. “This new edition of Rich States, Poor States showcases how states are competing with one another to become bastions of freedom and opportunity. Ultimately, it is the American people who benefit from this friendly competition, which ALEC is proud to promote.”

North Carolina’s sustained success in maintaining its second overall ranking can be largely attributed to its historic 2013 tax reform, which helped catapult the state from 22nd place to its current position. Similarly, Virginia’s impressive climb from 24th to 18th place in the rankings can be attributed to the significant tax cuts and rebates enacted during its 2022 legislative session. In contrast, New York’s ranking at the bottom of the list has remained unchanged due to its persistently high personal, corporate, property, and inheritance taxes, which continue to place a heavy burden on taxpayers in the state.