Pa. Doesn’t Shine in State Rankings for Economic Performance

A Governing study places the state just shy of the bottom ten and links gubernatorial popularity to the findings.

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Photo Credit: AP Photo | Jacqueline Larma

Pennsylvania was ranked 39th in a study released on Monday of states’ overall economic performance conducted by

The rankings are based on six variables — the state’s unemployment rate, improvement in the unemployment rate over the past year, the state’s 2015 GDP per capita, percent change between the state’s 2014 and 2015 GDP, percent change in state resident’s personal income per capita, and percent growth in year-to-date increases in jobs for 2016. These figures come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Bureau of Economic Analysis in each state and “offer a mix of static and dynamic measures of the states’ overall economic performance,” according to Governing. The survey was last conducted in 2013.

What’s more is that Governing researchers also cross-referenced their findings to establish a correlation between gubernatorial popularity and each state’s economy. Governors in the top 10 states all have approval ratings between 54% and 72%. Massachusetts sits in the top spot, and Republican governor Charlie Baker holds the highest approval rating — 72%. Meanwhile, gubernatorial approval in states in the bottom 10 range from 67% (Matt Mead in Wyoming) to 29% (Dannel Malloy in Connecticut). Six of the states ranked in the bottom 10 had governors with approval ratings below 50%. Given that Governor Tom Wolf hit his lowest approval rating yet this past April, they may be on to something.

And more broadly, Governing also concluded that most states in the top 10 were blue or purple-to-blue states and most of the states at the bottom were red or purple-to-red states. “States with favorable economic results the past eight years would presumably be more eager to support Clinton, whereas states with unfavorable economic results would be more hospitable to Trump,” the report said. Pennsylvania, despite going for the Democratic candidate since 1992, is perpetually viewed as a swing state. But despite the low ranking, correlation and not causation here should lead us to believe that the commonwealth is anyone’s game at this point.

Pennsylvania was recently ranked 33rd on CNBC’s Top States for Business in 2016, a study based on 60 categories ranging from “cost of living” to “business friendliness.” PA was ranked 12th for the “technology and innovation” and “access to capital” categories.