We see many different ways to rank states: livability, perfect for retirees, high school graduation rates, even growth in GSP (gross state [economic] product). We were thrilled, but skeptical, to see our own state, Oregon, listed in the top ten in that last one. Number 7, in fact.
Upon closer inspection, however, we saw that the metric was growth in state product from 2009 to 2010. Well, we happen to know, from our coverage of the economy for one of our freelance news clients, that Oregon’s economy had fallen into the toilet in 2009.
Unemployment was way above national average for months – and it’s still there, too. Mill closings and curtailments. Foreclosures and short sales, slowing rate of home sales, declining home prices. Business closures… a very depressing time. We almost lost our only gas station, but owners clawed their way back to operation.
We can’t tell you how many people fell for the hopeful nostrums. “Now’s the time to buy a house!” No, only if prices have stopped falling, or you have a big enough family and down payment that you have to buy a house.
“Best time to start a business is now, when the economy is down. If we can make it now, we’ll do really well when the economy turns back up.” True, but only if you don’t get trapped into taking on debt you can’t pay back.
Looking at the other states, it’s hard to see a pattern that could account for the rankings. Tax policy, energy impacts, size, position from previous year – they jump all over the place.
Maybe this information is relatively meaningless. But it’s fun to look at anyway.