Is your state a drag on the American economy or a boon? The 50 states — as diverse as they are — each contribute something to the U.S. economy. Because of their diversity, state economies rarely trend in unison. GDP growth is often the default measure for economic strength, but it often fails to tell the whole story. Unemployment, poverty, job growth, and education among other factors can also play a part in defining the strength of an economy.
Economic vitality is as much about growth as it is about the state’s ability to support its population — with jobs, education, economic opportunities and more. In turn, employed, better-paid, and better-educated residents of a state further contribute to economic growth.
> 2016 GDP: $292.51 billion (18th largest)
> 5 yr. GDP annual growth rate: 3.0% (tied–4th largest growth)
> Unemployment: 2.3% (the lowest)
> 5 yr. annual employment growth: 2.9% (3rd fastest growth)
Many of the jobs in the fastest growing industries in the coming years will require a college education, and in Colorado, 39.2% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the second largest share of any state. Currently, some 8.4% of all workers in the state are employed in STEM jobs, one of the largest shares of any state.
Likely as a result, Colorado’s economy has expanded rapidly in recent years. The annual employment and GDP growth rates of 2.9% and 3.0%, respectively, between 2011 and 2016 are the third and fourth highest among all states. The information and scientific and technology sectors were the largest contributors to GDP growth in Colorado last year.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed economic growth, poverty, unemployment, job growth, and college attainment rates nationwide to compare and rank each state’s economy. As a result, the best ranked states tend to have fast-growing economies, low poverty and unemployment, high job growth, and a relatively well-educated workforce, while the opposite is generally the case among states with the worst ranked economies.