The Washington Post

North Dakota is the Best State in America


The Great Recession ended in 2009. But millions of Americans remain unemployed, make less than they did before the recession and are stuck in homes valued below pre-recession levels. While the worst seems behind us, the data show that we have a long way to go.

But in a handful of states, the unemployment rate has fallen well below its recession-era apex, home values are up and the median income has risen. And no state has recovered better than North Dakota.

There are plenty of ways to measure the nascent recovery. But let’s examine three key indicators: the drop in a state’s unemployment rate between 2009, when the economy hit rock bottom, and this April; the difference in median income in 2009 and in 2012, the last year for which data is available; and the difference in median home prices before and after the recession, which I estimated by combining data from the Census Bureau and Trulia.com.

The numbers show that North Dakota is rebounding best. The state’s unemployment rate fell from an already low 4.1 percent to 2.6 percent, the lowest in the nation. The median income increased 4 percent, placing the state in the top five in income growth. The median home price rose 16 percent, from $112,300 before the recession to $130,500 just after, by far the sharpest percentage increase in the country.

Check out the full results here, and the data we used below.

Reid Wilson covers national politics and Congress for The Washington Post. He is the author of Read In, The Post’s morning tip sheet on politics.

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