2015 Regional Report: The Midwest


North Dakota ranked first in the ALEC-LAFFER State Economic competitiveness index, based on 150 percent cumulative growth over the recent 10-year period. The state also reversed a long run of negative or flat domestic migration, welcoming over 15,000 new North Dakotans in 2013. Oil, of course, is the driver.

While energy has bolstered the state’s economy coming out of the Great Recession, recent price drops make the future less sanguine. Still, JPMorgan Chase projects gross state product will continue steadily rising at about 6.5% a year through 2018; the “broadening of the state’s economy, built on its energy assets, (will) sustain the state’s supercharged growth rate for the next half-decade,” forecasts JPMorgan Chase economist James Glassman.

The Tax Foundation ranks North Dakota’s state and local tax burden 15th lowest out of 50 states and ranks it 25th in business tax climate. North Dakota spends over $43 million a year on incentive programs.


iStock_000073259605_SmallOhio’s GDP was $583.2 billion in 2014, making the Buckeye State the country’s seventh-largest economy. Ohio ranks fourth in the nation in value of manufactured products. After manufacturing, logistics is the state’s largest industry, followed by business services, education & health and real estate.

The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, ranks Ohio 23rd in the nation for in its Economic Outlook, and 49th in economic performance.

Unemployment compensation reform is high on the agenda of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, says Ohio state director Chris Ferruso. The Tax Foundation ranks Ohio’s state and local tax burden 18th-highest out of 50 states and ranks it 44th in business tax climate. Ohio spends over $3.24 billion a year on incentive programs.


iStock_000012547520_SmallSouth Dakota’s economy grew 0.6% last year, well below the national 2.2% rate. The pace left South Dakota ranked No. 41 in growth among the 50 states. A continuing agriculture sector slide hammered the economy; farm revenues fell 20% in 2014. Personal income limped along at a 1.7% growth rate, less than half the national average. Recent surveys show that industries are adding jobs: manufacturing (5.2% growth over past 12 months), logging, mining and construction (4.1% growth) and leisure/hospitality (3.8% growth).

The most significant issue among employers is workforce readiness. ”CEOs tell me they’re trying to get enough people with the right skills but there is a shortage,” says David Owen, president of the South Dakota Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Ernie Goss, director of Creighton University’s Institute for Economic Inquiry and lead researcher in the institute’s monthly Mid-American Business Conditions survey, says indications “point to positive gains for the rest of 2015.” The Tax Foundation ranks South Dakota’s state and local tax burden 3rd-lowest out of 50 states and 2nd in business tax climate. South Dakota spends over $27.8 million a year on incentive programs.