The unbalanced spread of prosperity in the United States is no secret; income inequality has dominated the political conversation this year from the streets of Oakland to Capitol Hill. And just as income distributes in unfathomably unequal fashion between individuals, it also distributes unevenly between states, cities, and neighborhoods.
So even though Manhattan may house more of the one percent than most cities, it does not necessarily follow that New York State is the most prosperous, nor does it follow that New York City is incredibly prosperous. A new report from IHS Global Insight Inc, first reported by Bloomberg, demonstrates that the biggest winners of our lagging post-recessionary recovery are not where you might have expected.
North Dakota, of all states, has the best-performing economy in the United States, according to Bloomberg. This shouldn’t come as a surprise for anyone who has been following the exploration of the Bakken formation, an oil field that has created boomtowns out of podunk North Dakota outposts. Cities like Williston, North Dakota are now flush with cash, and even have housing shortages, according to CNN.
Other states with promising economic outlooks are Alaska, Texas, and Oklahoma. In other words, the only states with booming economies are those that are extracting oil from themselves.
The states with the worst economies, according to Bloomberg, are those whose economic expansion was dependent on the housing boom of the past decade: Georgia, Nevada, Florida, California.
There’s a nugget of historical irony in there, of course, as Oklahoma’s economy is expanding faster than California’s. Perhaps Californians will move en masse from Fresno to Oklahoma City, and be dubbed Californies.
Probably not, though. Bloomberg points out that because of the nature of the crisis in these housing-depressed states, many people are stuck in underwater mortgages. They cannot move, and this lack of mobility is making our recovery slower that it would be otherwise. IHS estimates that these hard hit states won’t return to pre-recession levels of economic activity until 2016.
So the takeaway is this: if you don’t own a home, and you live in a depressed state, you better hustle off to the oil fields. You can come back home in 2016. It will certainly be a memorable four years. Think of it like college, but greasier.