The Washington Post

North Dakota is No. 1 (on pretty much everything)

North Dakota tops a number of state economic rankings thanks to its oil boom, but from oil flows a great many things, apparently.

Gallup spent the the second half of last year asking a battery of questions of roughly 30,000 people nationwide last year, split up roughly equally among the states. Out of more than 40 measures spanning not only attitudes about the economy, but also public affairs, the environment and the social climate, North Dakota topped the rankings nearly 40 percent of the time and was at or above average about half the time.

Here’s a look at what Gallup reports in a lengthy post rounding up their findings:

How North Dakota compares on economic issues. (Gallup)
How North Dakota compares on economic issues. (Gallup)

In 2000, North Dakota was home to the nation’s 38th highest per capita income. By 2008 — a year before “oil became a factor in the state’s finances,” Gallup notes — the state ranked 19th. By last year it was second.

Residents there lead the nation on at least nine economic variables. They are most satisfied with their current standard of living and its improvement over time, the state of the economy and its improvement, the availability of good jobs, the climate for starting a new business and economic conditions in their city or local area and the improve.

How North Dakota compares on public affairs and the environment. (Gallup)
How North Dakota compares on public affairs and the environment. (Gallup)

But the economy is just the starting point. North Dakotans top the rankings on six measures of public affairs and the environment. They have the highest rates of satisfaction with their air quality, their K-12 education, their schools, how well those schools prepare students for the workforce, their judicial systems and trust in their government.

How North Dakota compares on its social climate. (Gallup)
How North Dakota compares on its social climate. (Gallup)

It’s only along the social measures that relative dissatisfaction begins to really creep in. The states ranks below average in the feeling that it’s a good place for racial and ethnic minorities, gays and lesbians, and immigrants. And residents report helping strangers at a below-average rate. But they still topped the list on feeling treated with respect or experiencing a lot of joy the day before their interviews.

Niraj Chokshi reports for GovBeat, The Post's state and local policy blog.



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