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Posted on: February 15, 2019

Here's How Healthy Texas' Economy Really Is


By Fernando Alfonso, Patch Staff | | Updated

Texas has the 27th healthiest economy in the country, according to a new study published Wednesday by Ohio University. The researchers ranked the performance of each state's economy over the last decade. In 2019, Texas received a distress score of 100.5. That's higher than the national average of 100 (the lower the score, the better.)

In 2009, as the Great Recession snared the economy, Texas ranked as the 43rd healthiest economy with a distress score of 111.7.

The researchers used information compiled by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Economic distress was measured by averaging unemployment rate, per capita market income and poverty rate over three years, then comparing it to national averages.

"These measures can help elected officials and policy makers identify communities that may be susceptible to elevated levels of mental illness, substance abuse and other serious diseases of despair," researcher Orman Hall said in a release.

New Hampshire boasts the healthiest economy this year with a distress score of 68.8, the researchers found. The state slightly improved its score from 2009, when it also ranked No. 1. Here are the top 10 healthiest economies in America this year:

  1. New Hampshire, 68.8
  2. North Dakota, 70.9
  3. Hawaii, 78.1
  4. Nebraska, 78.7
  5. Minnesota, 79
  6. Massachusetts, 79.2
  7. Maryland, 80.1
  8. Connecticut, 81
  9. Vermont/Wyoming/Colorado, 81.8

The South, on the other hand, permeated the list of 10 unhealthiest economies this year. That includes Mississippi, which ranked as the unhealthiest economy in America with a distress score of 141 (which is actually an improvement from 2009 when it received scored 153). New Mexico, West Virginia, Alabama, Louisiana, Kentucky, Arizona, South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia made up the bottom 10. Each had a distress score of at least 115.

"The Southeast is struggling still relative to the rest of the country," Rick Hodges, executive in residence at the university, told Patch on Wednesday.

He later added: "I think you can look at it as saying if 100 is the average, there is a huge disparity between some of those that have benefitted and some of those who have not as much."

North Dakota saw its score improve the most. In 2009, the state had the 17th-healthiest economy with a score of 91. That improved 22 percent in the last decade to 70.9. Now, the state has the second-healthiest economy in the nation. Louisiana managed to improve its economy as well, from a paltry 147.6 to still-bad-but-not-as-bad 122.9. The state's ranking improved three spots from 49 to 46.

The six-month study was initially meant to be used with mapping economic disparity to health issues, things like disease and poverty. But after looking at the numbers, the researchers thought the results were particularly interesting as an economic study. They showed the relative disparity amongst states and how states have improved, Hodges said.

While the country has grown overall, some areas have basically stagnated.

"Economic growth since the recession has occurred, but it has certainly not been equal," he said.

That includes Ohio, which ranked 32nd in economic distress in 2009 with a score of 103.8, then ranked 33rd this year with a score of 104 — essentially unchanged.

"Obviously we're based in Ohio and we were hoping it would be better than that. As you look within states, and we're in the process of breaking other areas down now, just the relative disparity across a state or across a region is really surprising," he said.

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