Washington Ranks 37th on New U.S. Economic Freedom Index

The Pacific Research Institute recently released its 2008 Economic Freedom Index. Here’s how they describe it:

… a ranking of economic freedom in the 50 states. Published in association with Forbes, the Index scores states based on 143 variables, including regulatory and fiscal obstacles imposed on businesses and residents.

This year, Washington comes in at 37, meaning 36 states exhibit more economic freedom or, I guess, fewer “regulatory and fiscal obstacles.” In 2004 Washington ranked 31st; in 1999, we were 40th. The top ranked states this year are South Dakota, Idaho, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. (h/t to John LaPlante at the State Policy Blog.)

Having previously called into question the validity of “best places” rankings, I was pleased to see this response to critics by study author Lawrence J. McQuillan,

Businesses locate based on many factors including land and housing costs, transportation and school systems, labor and energy costs, weather, proximity to distribution networks, and government rules and regs, what we call “economic freedom.” We measured only economic freedom, not the “business climate” generally, which is beyond the scope of our study. This explains why our results diverge from other indexes that measure concepts such as business climate or competitiveness. Apples must be compared to apples. The weight that a business (or an individual) places on any given factor can vary tremendously. Economic freedom might be important and determinant for one business, but not for another. Thanks to the U.S. Economic Freedom Index, however, researchers now have a yardstick by which to measure economic freedom across states and assess its impact on business and personal decisions.

That’s about right.

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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