San Francisco, Calif. — 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.
The states that are the least economically free are clustered in the densely populated states of the Northeast including 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 Index collected and ranked indicators and 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. A full list of all 50 states and their rankings and the data underlying the rankings can be found at www.pacificresearch.org.