49. New Mexico
Debt per capita: $3,914 (21st highest)
Budget deficit: 8.3% (31st largest)
Unemployment: 6.9% (tied-19th lowest)
Median household income: $42,558 (6th lowest)
Pct. below poverty line: 20.8% (2nd highest)
24/7 Wall St. (www.247wallst.com) just came up with America’s best- and worst-run states. To do this, they conducted an extensive survey of each state by examining financial data such as the state’s debt, revenue, expenditures, deficit, and credit ratings; services provided; and the state residents’ standard of living. This involved looking at taxes, exports and GDP growth as well as poverty, income, unemployment, high school graduation, and violent crimes. They also looked at foreclosure rates to determine the overall well-being of the state’s population.
In addition to poor financials, they found that the worst-run states share certain characteristics that help define why they are so poorly run. These factors include: lower standard-of-living, high violent crime rates, and a population less likely to have a high school diploma. Residents are also less likely to have health insurance coverage.
New Mexico’s economic disparity
Unfortunately, more than one in five New Mexico residents lived below the poverty line in 2012, despite the fact that the Santa Fe region is considered to be rather affluent. Much of this can be attributed to “poverty in the pueblos” where the standard of living tends to be marginal, health services are minimal, and income is generally dismal. (The only state with more poverty is Mississippi.)
Add to this a GDP growth of only 0.2%, and the economic picture is less than rosy for the state of New Mexico, also known as the “Land of Enchantment.” This was worse than most states.
New Mexico’s silver lining
On the brighter side, New Mexico beat out California for the worst-run state in 2012 by having a stellar credit rating in contrast to California’s poor credit history. (Standard & Poors rates New Mexico AA+ and Moody’s rates it with a perfect Aaa rating.) Add to that the fact that unemployment is relatively low at 6.9% and the state’s budget deficit of 8.3% - relative to its size - is considered average. Together, these factors help boosted New Mexico from being in the bottom slot.
However, one noticeable feature that wasn’t measured in computing the standard of living in each state was the quality of air. Anyone who has visited or lived in the state knows that the air is cleaner here and the sun shines brighter: There is a reason that New Mexico is known for its turquoise skies and terracotta soils.