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: $651.96 billion (6th largest)
> 5 yr. GDP annual growth rate: 1.8% (tied–15th largest growth)
> Unemployment: 5.0% (5th highest)
> 5 yr. annual employment growth: 0.7% (5th slowest growth)
Pennsylvania is one of only a dozen states where annual employment growth averaged less than 1.0% per year between 2011 and 2016. The state’s slow job growth may partially explain the higher than average jobless rate. Some 5.0% of Pennsylvania’s workers are unemployed, and another 10.6% are underemployed. This is well above the corresponding 4.3% and 9.6% unemployment and underemployment rates nationwide.
Like many states with lagging economies, Pennsylvania is more reliant on manufacturing than the country as a whole. Pennsylvania’s manufacturing sector was a drag on economic growth in the 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.