Northeast deemed most economically oppressed

The Pacific Research Institute, a free-market think tank based in California, has released the ‘U.S. Economic Freedom Index 2008 Report,’ a ranking of economic freedom in the 50 states. Published in association with Forbes, the index scored states based on 143 variables, including regulatory and fiscal obstacles imposed on businesses and residents.

South Dakota, which ranked 15 in 2004 (the last time the Index was published), has assumed the notable spot as the nation’s most economically free state, while New York consistently remained the most economically oppressed state, ranking 50 in all three editions of the index.

The states that are the least economically free are clustered in the densely populated states of the Northeast: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Rhode Island and New York.

As was the case in 2004, the Northeast states ranked poorly in the index: Pennsylvania ranked 45, New Jersey ranked 42, Rhode Island ranked 47, and New York ranked in at 50.

“The Northeast suffers the most infringement of economic freedom. This pattern is especially evident in the fiscal, regulatory, and welfare spending sectors,” said Lawrence J. McQuillan, Ph.D., director of Business and Economic Studies and project director.

The U.S. Economic Freedom Index: Report, by Lawrence J. McQuillan, Ph.D., Michael T. Maloney, Ph.D., Eric Daniels, Ph.D., and Brent M. Eastwood, Ph.D., updates the 2004 and 1999 editions using recent data that reflect changes in state policies. The index score ranges from 1 (most free) to 50 (least free), and state rankings were derived from the index scores. The Index collected and ranked 143 indicators comprised of 209 underlying variables from five sectors (fiscal, regulatory, judicial, size of government, and welfare spending) for each state to measure how friendly, or unfriendly, each state’s government policies are toward free enterprise and consumer choice.

The net migration rate for the 20 freest states was 27.36 people per 1,000, while it was a low 1.17 people per 1,000 for the 20 most economically oppressed states. “People are moving to the freest states and fleeing the least free states as our market-based migration metric of economic freedom predicts,” said Dr. McQuillan, “By measuring economic freedom and studying its effects, people will gain a fuller appreciation of the important imprint it makes on the economic and political fabric of America and will encourage new state legislation that advances economic liberty.”

A full list of all 50 states and their rankings and the data underlying the rankings can be found at .

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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