9 States With the Most Economic Opportunity
Economic opportunity can be a difficult concept to measure. Unlike some other parameters, such as gross domestic product or manufacturing output, the definition of how much opportunity the residents of a given region have is more nebulous. While some economic conditions play a part in the process — including unemployment and poverty rates — factors like access to education or community-based resources are also important.
Opportunity Nation, an organization with a goal to increase economic opportunity, compiled an index of the statistic for the United States in 2013. The group’s methodology was to diversify its measure into the three broad categories of education, economy, and community, bringing the total number of measurements that factor into final scores to 16.
Some trends in this year’s index were positive; overall, opportunity in the U.S. increased by 2.6 percent from two years ago, and the vast majority of states reported substantial drops in the rates of violent crimes. However, other trends were not so rosy. Most states posted an increase in the rate of poverty and a decrease in median household income during the same time period. In addition, one in seven young people in the U.S. are currently classified as “inactive,” meaning that they are not actively pursuing their education or working.
Another trend that has given some cause for pause is that regional variance across the data is at an all-time high. This implies, for states like last-place Nevada, that opportunity is quite far below the average value for the country. But what exactly does it mean for some of the higher-ranked states? Let’s take a look at the nine U.S. states with the highest levels of economic opportunity.