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Editorial: Optimistic about economy

Minnesotans are sometimes mystified by the doom and gloom in other parts of the country, and this may be why:

A new Gallup poll shows that Minnesotans have the highest confidence in the economy.

Minnesota was the only state in the union with a non-negative score in Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index for 2014.

Sure, it was only a zero, but it’s the highest rating in any state since the Great Recession struck in 2008.

Minnesota was followed by Maryland, California and Hawaii. Scores were lowest in West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi.

The results are based on Gallup Daily tracking interviews with 176,702 national adults conducted from January through December last year, and represent averages for the year.

The Gallup Economic Confidence Index is a composite of Americans’ ratings of current U.S. economic conditions and their perceptions of the economy’s direction.

The index has a theoretical maximum of plus-100 (if all respondents rate the economy “excellent” or “good” and say it is getting better) and a theoretical minimum of minus-100 (if all rate the economy “poor” and say it is getting worse).

Nationally, the index averaged minus 15 for all of 2014. But scores improved dramatically in the last part of the year, and have consistently been in positive territory so far this year. The ratings reported here, based on averages for all of 2014, do not necessarily reflect current confidence.

But since there’s a decent level of consistency in state rankings from year to year, the relative state rankings may still generally hold even if Americans overall, and in each of the 50 states, are currently more upbeat about the economy.

Gallup has tracked economic confidence ratings at the state level since 2008, and prior to Minnesota’s latest rating of zero, no state has had a non-negative annual score.

For whatever reason (and this may explain a lot) Washington, D.C., which had a score of plus 18 in 2014, has had positive scores since 2012 and has maintained a significant lead in confidence over residents in the 50 states since 2009.

Though most of the states with the highest index scores are the same as in 2013, Hawaii (minus 6) and Colorado (minus 7) moved up in 2014 after not having made the top of the previous year’s list.

Washington, Texas and Massachusetts, each with a score of minus 8, remained in the top 10 from the prior rankings. Wisconsin and North Dakota, both scoring minus 9, also returned to the top of the list.

Scores in Iowa (minus 11) and Nebraska (minus 11) — both of which have regularly been atop the list in recent years — as well as Connecticut (minus 14) each dipped slightly, and therefore, these states lost their spots among the top 10.

Of the states where residents are least confident about the economy, West Virginia (minus 42) remains at the bottom — a distinction it holds for the fifth year in a row. Alabama (minus 33) had also found itself among the bottom states in recent years, but its nine-point drop in 2014 sent it to the second-to-last spot after West Virginia.

FORUM NEWS SERVICE

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