10 Years after the Recession: New Study on the Fiscal Condition of the States

Fresh off the presses today is the 2018 and final edition of our state fiscal rankings report. My co-author Eileen Norcross and I calculate indicators of fiscal health for all 50 states to see how they compare to each other and how they’ve performed over time. Our metrics help to aggregate a lot of financial information about states that in turn allows us to better assess the short- and long-run fiscal risks they face. The hope is that by using this data, we can pinpoint where exactly states are struggling, learn best practices from the most fiscally healthy states, and ultimately make all of this information more accessible.

To complement the rankings in this year’s edition, we also review performance over a decade (2006-2016). This time frame allowed us to see how states have fared since the recession, to highlight persistent themes, and to provide context for understanding how each state arrived at their rank in this year’s edition of the study.

Over the next several weeks, I will be writing about the main lessons we have learned from studying the fiscal condition of the states. This will take the form of a five-part series highlighting key stories including:

  1. What makes Nebraska number one in the ranking and what characteristics could serve as lessons for other states?
  2. What puts Illinois in last place and what characteristics serve as warning signs for other states?
  3. What are common traits among the consistently good and bad states?
  4. What lesson can we learn from oil-rich states that heavily rely on their natural resources for funding state operations?
  5. How does tax reform impact a state’s fiscal health?

If you’d like to take a sneak peek at these stories, you can explore the paper’s findings here. Even though I’ll be using this series to highlight what I think are some key lessons from the paper, the posts won’t cover everything. Our paper can help shed light on other state public finance stories, including helping you find out specifics for your state. We provide data in many ways, including the full spreadsheet for downloading.  Here is a list of some resources that can help you learn more about how your state compares to others and how it has performed over time:

  • A 50-state map and ranking of fiscal condition for the latest year
  • Trend lines of fiscal indicators within each solvency area for each state
  • 50 state-specific fiscal summaries
  • Ranks for all 50 states over a ten year period