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Minnesota, Wisconsin among top 10 most prosperous states, Michigan, Iowa lag

(The Center Square) – Minnesota and Wisconsin placed in the top 10 of a recent nationwide prosperity index while Iowa and Michigan trailed behind, at 12th and 29th, respectively.

Wisconsin placed third and Minnesota placed eighth in the American Dream Prosperity Index that the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream produced with Legatum Institute. The index measures prosperity through three domains: Inclusive Societies, Open Economies and Empowered People. The domains contain 11 pillars of prosperity that are built on 49 actionable policy areas and more than 200 indicators.

States in the Northeast had the highest levels of prosperity. Massachusetts, as in most of the past 10 years, took first place. Connecticut took second place. Minnesota (3rd), Utah (5th) and Wisconsin (8th) broke from that pattern.

Minnesota ranked sixth for both Inclusive Societies and Empowered People, according to the report. In Inclusive Societies, its rankings rose in Personal Freedom and Social Capital but decreased in Safety and Security and Governance. The state ranks in the top five states for nearly all Empowered People pillars: Living Conditions (second), Health (fourth), Education (fifth). It ranks 19th in Natural Environment. Minnesota ranked eighth in the Open Economies domain. Over the past decade, Minnesota has risen in the rankings in each of the Open Economies pillars: Business Environment, Infrastructure and Economic Quality. Minnesota’s second-best in the nation in Social Capital and Living Conditions. Its rankings suffer in Personal Freedom (18th) and Natural Environment (19th). Minnesota is 49th in Freedom of Speech. It ranks 48th in Press Suppression and 42nd in Free Speech on Campus.

Wisconsin, which rose from ninth place overall in 2012, ranks 16th in Empowered People, seventh in Inclusive Societies and 13th in Open Economies this year. Since 2012, the state has risen in all but one of the Inclusive Societies pillars. Safety and Security dropped three positions in the rankings, while the state’s rankings in the other pillars remain in the top 10. The state has risen 13 positions in Personal Freedom. Wisconsin dropped 10 positions in Open Economies’ Infrastructure pillar. While its score has increased nearly four points in Empowered People’s Living Conditions pillar, Wisconsin’s down 11 spots compared with the rest of the nation. Its Connectedness and Protection from Harm indicators rank 43rd and 42nd in the U.S, respectively.

Iowa, which dropped from 11th place in 2012, placed eighth in Inclusive Societies, 19th in Empowered People and 25th in Open Economies. Personal Freedom (fourth) and Governance (sixth) were the sole pillars that ranked in the top 10. Still, apart from the Business Environment (37th) and Natural Environment (39th) pillars, the state’s pillars ranked at least 15th in the U.S. Among Business Environment indicators, Iowa ranked 42nd in Financing Ecosystems, 19th in Domestic Market Contestability, 44th in Burden of Regulation, 12th in Labor Market Flexibility and 39th in Price Distortions.

Michigan rose from 35th in 2012. This year, it ranked 21st in Inclusive Societies, 28th in Empowered People and 36th in Open Economies. It has the 42nd best Economic Quality. The state’s Washtenaw, Leelanau, Oakland, Clinton and Ottawa counties have the most prosperity, while its Oscoda, Calhoun, Luce, Wayne and Lake counties have the least. While Lake is the state’s least prosperous county, its improvements in the Business Environment and Education pillars have placed it among the state’s top five counties to see the most past-decade improvement.

Since 2012, every state except North Dakota has increased its prosperity. Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana ranked 51st, 50th and 49th in 2022, according to the report, which includes the District of Columbia. In 2012, Arkansas ranked 51st, Mississippi ranked 50th and New Mexico ranked 49th.


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