Press Release

New 2021 State Economic Competitiveness Rankings Reveal the Success Formula for Prosperity After COVID-19  

Alexis Jarrett

New 2021 State Economic Competitiveness Rankings Reveal the Success Formula for Prosperity After COVID-19

Utah Finishes First and New York Last as Competitive States Were Better Prepared for Pandemic

ARLINGTON, VA – (MAY 12, 2021) The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) releases today, the 14th edition of Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index – its newest publication in an annual series illustrating each state’s competitiveness and economic outlook using 15 equally-weighted policy variables and trends from past decades.

The new edition finds that even through the pandemic, states with policies such as low or no income taxes and worker freedom are more economically competitive and better positioned for wage growth, job creation and domestic in-migration compared to states with higher taxes and government spending. The new rankings also reveal that, as proven by new 2020 Census data, Americans “vote with their feet” by moving from high-tax to low-tax states.

“Utah, at the top of the rankings for the 14th year in a row, solidified its well-deserved first place spot this year by prioritizing sound economic policy,” said ALEC chief economist and report co-author Jonathan Williams. “Utah has an incredibly strong track record of pro-taxpayer reforms in recent years, including the adoption of a flat personal income tax rate, pension reform for its previously endangered system, and the state’s innovative approach to property tax reform. The success of Utah’s‘truth in taxation’ policy for local property taxes, has been noticed by other states. Truth in taxation has already passed nearly unanimously in Kansas this session, and is being considered in Nebraska. It is a great development to see states follow the lead of competitive state policy, which brings with it job creation and shared economic success for all.”

The 15 economic policy variables used by the authors to rank the economic outlook of states have proven over time to be influential for state competitiveness and growth. This report shows that cutting taxes, paying down debt and maintaining free market policies have significantly helped states like Florida, Georgia and Texas improve their national rankings this year.

“The trends highlighted in Rich States, Poor States tell a story of the free-market ideals that win for taxpayers, and the consequences that follow when they’re ignored,” said ALEC CEO Lisa B. Nelson. “Rich States, Poor States economic outlook scores are a leading indicator of what’s to come. For years ALEC has highlighted the bright outlook of low tax states characterized by high scores and increasing population. The new census numbers and the congressional reapportionment to follow confirms Rich States, Poor States findings: People are voting with their feet. They’re headed to opportunity states.”

 Find out how your state ranks here.

Used by lawmakers across the states since 2007, Rich States, Poor States is authored by Reagan Economist Dr. Arthur B. Laffer, FreedomWorks economist Stephen Moore and ALEC Chief Economist Jonathan Williams.

“Following COVID-19, it has become clear that economically competitive states were better prepared for the pandemic,” said author Dr. Arthur B. Laffer. “In fact, states ranked highly in this report have also seen lower rates of unemployment and fewer persistent economic problems post-economic shutdown than uncompetitive, low-ranked states. This publication acts as a guide to the solutions states used to stay resilient, and even prosperous.”


The American Legislative Exchange Council is the largest nonpartisan, voluntary membership organization of state legislators in the United States. The Council is governed by state legislators who comprise the Board of Directors and is advised by the Private Enterprise Advisory Council, a group of private, foundation and think tank members. For more information about the American Legislative Exchange Council, please visit:

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