Press Release

Rich States Attract More Residents, Poor States Make Them Leave

Contact: Dan Reynolds

Rich States Attract Residents, Poor States Make Them Leave

ARLINGTON, VA – (April 15, 2019) The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) releases today, Rich States, Poor States 2019 – its newest publication in an annual series illustrating each states’ competitiveness. The twelfth edition of Rich States, Poor States examines the latest trends in state economic growth. The data ranks the 2019 economic outlook of states using 15 equally weighted policy variables, including various tax rates, regulatory burdens and labor policies. The twelfth edition examines trends that have helped or hurt states’ economies.

The top ten and the bottom ten on this year’s outlook rankings:


Rank State Rank Change Rank State Rank Change
1 Utah 0 41 Connecticut -1
2 Idaho 0 42 Rhode Island -3
3 North Dakota +1 43 Maine -1
4 Nevada +9 44 Oregon -3
5 Indiana -2 45 Hawaii 0
6 North Carolina +1 46 New Jersey 0
7 Tennessee +5 47 California 0
8 Florida -2 48 Illinois 0
9 South Dakota 0 49 Vermont 0
10 Arizona -5 50 New York 0


Utah is ranked 1st for the 12th year in a row. New York ranked 50th for the 6th year in a row. In the past ten years, New York has lost more than 1.3 million residents, California has lost nearly 800,00 residents, and Illinois has lost more than 783,000 residents. All three of these states are in the bottom ten.

“With massive surpluses gifted to the states through federal tax reform, many state lawmakers are leveraging this into tax relief to benefit state taxpayers. However, some states aren’t seizing their golden opportunity to become more competitive, and their economies will suffer for it,” says ALEC Chief Economist and Vice President, Jonathan Williams. “This isn’t just an academic report – it tracks the significant interstate migration that occurs every year. This migration directly influences the economic and political makeup of states, and the electoral college, as we approach the 2020 census. Americans continue to vote with their feet across states, and they are voting strongly in favor of the states that have created a free market environment conducive to economic growth and opportunity.”


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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