by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
North Carolina ranks as the 14th most economically free state in the union, according to a new report released this morning. The Fraser Institute, an independent, nonpartisan Canadian public policy think tank, compiled the rankings.
The Tar Heel State scored 6.83 out of 10 in this year’s report, behind top-ranked New Hampshire (7.93) and above lowest-ranked New York (4.49), which ranked last for the fifth year in a row.
The “Economic Freedom of North America” report measures government spending, taxation, and labor market restrictions using data from 2017, the most recent year of available comparable data.
Within the subcategories, North Carolina ranked No. 9 in labor market freedom, No 18 in taxes, and No. 23 in government spending. The state’s overall score improved from 6.74 in the prior year’s report, but its ranking dropped from No. 13.
“When governments allow markets to decide what’s produced, how it’s produced, and how much is produced, citizens enjoy greater levels of economic freedom,” said Fred McMahon, report co-author and research chair at the Fraser Institute.
Rounding out the top five freest states are Florida (2nd), Tennessee (3rd), Virginia (4th), and Texas (5th). Rounding out the bottom five are West Virginia (49th), Alaska (48th), Vermont (47th), and Oregon (46th).
From 2003 to 2017, the average score for U.S. states in the all-government index fell from 8.23 to 7.92. Across North America, in the most-free jurisdictions, the average per capita income in 2017 was 9.2% above the national average compared to 3.4% below the national average in the least-free jurisdictions.
“Higher levels of economic freedom lead to more prosperity, greater economic growth, more investment, and more jobs and opportunities,” said Dean Stansel, report co-author and economics professor at Southern Methodist University.