Even though self-proclaimed socialists make up only a tiny minority of the American population, there are some states that can be safely described as more “socialist” than others.
That’s according to the financial website The Street, which put together a list of the 10 most and least “socialist” states in the United States – and some of the results are surprising. By “socialist,” the website meant that a large percentage of the state’s economy is under government control.
“In order to measure the degree to which different states reflect socialist principles, we determined state expenditures and state GDP as the best indicators because socialist states tax and spend a higher percentage of their GDP,” the website said.
The simple formula divided the state’s expenditures by the state’s GDP.
Disagree with the list? Let us know in the comments section.
1. West Virginia. Government expenditures made up 34.1 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. That means more than three of every 10 dollars spent in West Virginia is spent by the government. Additionally, West Virginia was No. 2 on Forbes’ list of the 10 poorest states in the US.
2. Alaska. Don’t tell Sarah Palin, but the final frontier is heavily subsidized by government. Government spending accounted for around 23.6 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.
3. Wyoming. So, the Cowboy State is not a bastion of rugged individualism? Government expenditures made up 21.8 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. The federal government owns most of the land in sparsely populated Wyoming.
4. Mississippi. Forbes’ choice as America’s poorest state is also the fourth-most “socialist” state in the US, according to The Street. Government spending makes up 20 percent of the state’s economy. The state had a poverty rate of 24 percent and an average household income of $37,963 a year in 2013.
5. Arkansas. The nation’s eighth poorest state ranked No. 5. Government spending makes up 18.6 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. As in West Virginia and Mississippi, a high poverty  rate of 19.7 percent makes for low incomes and a high level of welfare dependence.
6. Vermont. The state’s best-known politician is independent US Senator Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as “a democratic socialist.” Vermont also flirted with the idea of a single payer health care system but dropped it because of high costs last year. Even without that experiment, 17.9 percent of Vermont’s gross domestic product consists of government spending.
7. New Mexico. A high percentage of government land ownership, a high poverty rate, and large military bases make for a large government economic presence. Around 17.2 percent of the state’s domestic product was made up of government expenditures. New Mexico is also the nation’s fifth poorest state, with 21.9 percent of the population living below the poverty line in 2013.
8. Hawaii. Hawaii has a high level of government involvement in the economy because geographic isolation limits economic opportunity. Around 16.5 percent of the state’s gross domestic product consisted of government spending.
9. Rhode Island. A stagnant economy and industrial decline make for a poverty rate and a lot of welfare dependence in the nation’s smallest state. Around 16.3 percent of Rhode Island’s gross domestic product is comprised of government spending.
10. Wisconsin. America’s Dairyland has long had a reputation as a bastion of progressivism and high taxes. It is also the 10th most “socialist” state in the nation according to The Street, with 16.2 percent of its GDP consisting of government spending. An economy that is heavily dependent on agriculture and health care accounts for the high level of government in the state. It also ranks fourth in American in property taxes.
If you were wondering about the 10 least “socialist” states, they are:
- New Hampshire
- Washington State
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