These are good times for Minnesota. Unemployment is low. The state's credit rating is high. And the average median household income is above average. That all adds up to Minnesota being the best-run state in the nation, according to a study by the website24/7 Wall St(247wallst.com).
The Gopher State beat out Utah for the top spot in the annual survey, which uses economic indicators, budget allocations and balance sheets as well as a range of social measures to rank how well each state is run. Ranking third through fifth were Iowa, Oregon and Washington.
Minnesota ranked as the 10th best back in 2012 and has inched up in the rankings each year, coming in at No. 1 this year after its runner-up finish in 2016.
North Dakota, which had a five-year streak at the top, fell to seventh, hurt by falling oil prices.
Minnesota had the 13th-lowest unemployment rate in 2016 at 3.9 percent, the study said, but recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found it had dropped to 3.3 percent in October — the lowest unemployment rate since 2000. Employers have added more than 290,000 jobs since 2011, according to Gov. Mark Dayton's office.
Meanwhile, wages have risen over the past five years. The median household income of $65,599 in Minnesota is about $8,000 more than the median income nationwide, the study said.
Poverty rates were the sixth lowest in the country, according to 24/7 Wall St.
While taxes are high — the state brings in about $4,400 a year per resident, ranking as the fifth-highest in the nation — it's created a strong tax base. A healthy economy and good fiscal management has allowed the state to save more money than most other states, with 10 percent of its annual budget put in a rainy-day fund. The study also found that the state has a nearly perfect credit rating from Moody's and a stable long-term outlook.
"This administration has worked hard to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota, and we are not done yet," Dayton said. "Next session, I will urge the Legislature to work with me to protect the long-term fiscal stability of our state. I know we can deliver even better services and better value for the people of Minnesota."
A recent study by Minnesota Public Radio found that 60 percent of Minnesotans believe they get a good value for their taxes. More than 80 percent said they're more hopeful than fearful about what lies ahead for Minnesota.
Louisiana, New Mexico, Mississippi, Alabama and Pennsylvania were ranked as the five worst-run states in the study.