Two more state-ranking lists are out and the picture is interesting.
Two Connecticut metros, Hartford and Bridgeport-Stamford, are in the Top Ten small cities for college graduates to start their careers, according to CreditDonkey, the financial education site aimed at millennials.
That contrasts with the sixth annual “Rich States, Poor States” report by the ultra-conservative American Legislative Exchange Council, ranking states by economic competitiveness. Connecticut is near the bottom, of course. We’re No. 46, largely because of lack of growth, the exodus of 102,670 people between 2002 and 2011, tax policy and costs, especially debt.
Let’s take a look at the winners and losers in this report, written by right-wing all-stars Arthur Laffer (the Reagan economist), Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal and Jonathan Williams of ALEC.
Utah, the perennial leader, is No. 1 again. The top states read like a Republican utopia of hardscrabble nothingness — North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. Idaho, Georgia, Mississippi and Florida are also part of the Top Ten. Thanks to the Yankee Institute for Public Policy, for its look at the report.
After years on top of ALEC’s business-friendly rankings, Utah must be climbing fast in median household income, the single most important measure of broad prosperity, right?
Between 2003 and 2011, according to Census data, Utah’s median grew by 12.6 percent to $55,493. The U.S. median jumped by 15.5 percent to $50,054.
And woeful Connecticut? Median household income rose by 19 percent in those years, to $65,415 — No. 3 behind Maryland and New Hampshire. This isn’t an average, which skyrockets in Connecticut because of all the hedge-fund billionaires. It’s a median, the measure of a typical family’s income.
What we have here is a group of ideologues bent on proving that backward states with poor services, lousy schools and a hellish quality of life for working families are magnets for business. There’s absolutely no science behind it. It’s a religion based on the twisted idea that low wages and low taxes are some kind of magic formula for success.
Certainly Connecticut wastes a lot of money, as the Yankee Institute and others — including us at The Courant — point out. And Connecticut has serious, deep-rooted fiscal troubles that make the business climate less than ideal. Job growth remains low and that hurts people looking for new opportunities. But we’re doing something right or median income would fall.
These dozens of “business-friendly” lists that keep popping up are getting way too little scrutiny.
The CreditDonkey list is a look at three factors: median income, the average premium paid to college graduates and the cost of living. Bridgeport-Stamford is No. 2 despite high costs, because college grads in Fairfield County make twice as much as non-grads. And Hartford is No. 9, with a 73 percent college degree premium. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks, Cal. is No. 1 and Worcester comes in at No. 7.
As always, Connecticut fares well when it comes to pay and quality of life measures. By also looking at costs, CreditDonkey is offering a slightly nuanced view of the world.