The Rio Grande Foundation has long noted that many of the highest income states (California, New York, Connecticut as examples) are “blue” states that have embraced big-government economic policies, but still have ample private sector business communities. Some, like California’s tech sector remain strong while many East Coast manufacturing hubs are losing ground.
On the other hand there are many “red” states that have lower living costs and are growing faster than their “blue” rivals both economically and population-wise.
There were a handful of states like New Mexico and West Virginia that were both poor and “blue” (when state policies were considered) but in November of 2014, West Virginia’s Legislature flipped to Republican. And, while the State continues to have a Democrat in the Governor’s mansion, the Legislature can override most vetoes with a mere majority. Thus, West Virginia went Right to Work, repealed its Davis-Bacon “prevailing wage” law, and generally moved the State in a more business-friendly direction (these policies took effect in July of 2015). New Mexico, on the other hand, moved back towards its traditional embrace of big-government policies in the 2016 election and saw myriad tax and minimum wage hike proposals moved through. While these were vetoed by the Governor, she is a “lame duck” and, if anything, New Mexico is poised to lurch further to the left in the near future. West Virginia which went 68 for Trump shows no signs of doing so.
What has that meant for economic conditions on the ground? I’ll let you, dear reader, parse that for yourself: