Kentucky ranks below most states for economy & poverty rates

Here's why Kentucky ranked 42nd in US for its economy.

Here’s why Kentucky ranked 42nd in US for its economy.

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Kentucky was recently ranked the 42nd worst state in the country for its economy.

WalletHub’s 2022’s Best & Worst State Economies consider 28 economic indicators in its ranking, including change in gross domestic product, unemployment and underemployment rates, median household income adjusted for cost of living, entrepreneurial activity and more.

Kentucky was only a little below average in economic activity, where it landed a 28th place ranking. This metric was based on the share of fast-growing firms, exports per capita, startup activity and other factors.

The commonwealth fell behind in economic health and innovation potential, however, placing 37th and 46th in each respective category.

Although Kentucky performed below average in some categories, it landed a 7th place rating for exports per capita, with an export value of $6,618.

Another area WalletHub rated Kentucky above average was the increase of ratio between full-time and part-time jobs, with an increase of 0.65%, putting the commonwealth in 15th place.

Some of Kentucky’s worst performances were in unfunded public pension plans per capita, at 40th place, and a 16.6% share of population in poverty, with a ranking of 47.

Fiscal health, building permit activity, share of science, technology, engineering and math jobs and share of jobs in high-tech industries were other areas where the commonwealth fell behind.

Overall, WalletHub gave Kentucky a 36.03 on its state economy, with 100 being the highest possible score. The lowest score, 26.1, was given to West Virginia.

WalletHub said it sourced the ranking’s data from the US Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Bureau of Economic Analysis, Deloitte, United Health Foundation, American Legislative Exchange Council and other organizations.

Heres the 2022 top 25 state’s, according to WalletHub:

  1. Washington

  2. Utah

  3. California

  4. Massachusetts

  5. New Hampshire

  6. Colorado

  7. North Carolina

  8. Georgia

  9. Oregon

  10. District of Columbia

  11. Tennessee

  12. Texas

  13. Idaho

  14. Florida

  15. Michigan

  16. Maryland

  17. Arizona

  18. Montana

  19. Minnesota

  20. Virginia

  21. New York

  22. Indian

  23. New Jersey

  24. Iowa

  25. Connecticut

Here’s how each state performed:

Do you have a question about the economy in Kentucky for our service journalism team? We’d like to hear from you. Fill out our Know Your Kentucky form or email

This story was originally published July 5, 2022 10:41 AM.

Meredith Howard is a service journalist with the Belleville News-Democrat. She is a Baylor University graduate and has previously freelanced with the Illinois Times and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


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