Georgia ranks an impressive No. 7 out of all 50 states in the 2017 Economic Freedom of North America report, released this week by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
Georgia scored a total of 7.5 out of 10 in rankings on government spending, taxation and labor market restrictions. Based on 2015 data (the latest available), the Fraser Institute’s 13th annual report measures the degree to which the policies and institutions of states/provinces in the United States, Canada and Mexico support economic freedom.
At the top in the United States is New Hampshire, scoring 8.3 out of 10. Ahead of Georgia were Florida and Texas (tied for No. 2, scoring 8.1), South Dakota (No. 4, scoring 8), Tennessee (No. 5, scoring 7.8) and Virginia (No. 6, scoring 7.6). Oklahoma tied with Georgia. Neighbor North Carolina tied with four other states at No. 18, scoring 7.2.
When comparing all government spending (the United States, Canadian provinces and Mexican states), Alberta, Canada tied for first place with New Hampshire, both scoring 8. Georgia was one of 10 states tied for third place, scoring 7.9. (The other nine were Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.)
When looking at overall U.S. spending, which includes federal spending, Georgia ranks 13th. Looking at neighbors and competitors, Florida is No. 5, Texas is No. 6, South Carolina and Tennessee are tied at No. 28, Alabama is 43 and North Carolina is No. 49.
When comparing government spending to other states (excluding federal), Georgia finishes a respectable No. 9. Florida ranks No.3, Texas ranks No. 5, Tennessee ranks No. 12, South Carolina ranks 39, North Carolina is No. 23. Alabama is No. 31.
Georgia is at the top of the list on all-government labor market freedom (including federal-level policies), tying for first place in the nation with states including Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Alabama was 29.
The report ranked Georgia at No. 7. Texas was No. 1. Florida and Tennessee tied at No. 5. North Carolina was No. 12, South Carolina was No. 17 and Alabama was No. 41.
At the all-government level of taxation in the United States (including federal policy), Alaska, which collects no income or state sales taxes, is No. 1. Georgia’s score tied for No. 24 in the nation with Indiana, Louisiana, Oregon, Texas and Washington state.
Alabama is No. 2 on all-government taxation (including federal). South Carolina is No. 7, Florida and Tennessee tie for No. 14, North Carolina is No. 19. (Beginning in 2014, North Carolina’s scores improved as the state phased in lower tax rates).
In terms of state-level taxes, Georgia ranks 20th and ties with South Carolina. Ahead of Georgia are neighbors Alabama (No. 8), Florida and Tennessee (tied at No. 3) and Texas (No. 6). The last three all have no personal income taxes. North Carolina ranks 26th in state-level taxes.
“The link between economic freedom and prosperity is clear – People who live in states that support comparatively low taxation, limited government and flexible labor markets have higher living standards and greater economic opportunity,” said Dean Stansel, economics professor at Southern Methodist University and co-author of the report.