The COVID-19 pandemic sent economic shockwaves through the U.S. economy, tripling the monthly unemployment to nearly 15% and leading to a more than 30% quarterly decline in GDP -- by far the largest economic contraction in U.S. history.

No corner of the country was untouched by the pandemic's economic consequences -- but some states have emerged better off than others. A range of factors, including industrial diversity, labor force education levels, household income, and long-term GDP growth, have an effect on a state's overall economic strength -- and its ability to withstand the impact of the pandemic.

To determine the states with the best and worst economies, both in the years leading up to the pandemic and during it, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of five measures — five-year economic growth, five-year employment growth, the poverty rate, unemployment rate, and share of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher.

Job growth has been sluggish in Iowa in recent years. Due primarily to massive layoffs during the pandemic, overall employment in the state has fallen by an average of 0.9% annually over the last half decade. There are nearly 100,000 fewer people working in Iowa today than there were last year at this time. Still, unemployment has historically been low in the state, and despite the shock of the pandemic to Iowa's job market, the state's unemployment rate of 3.7% is lower than that of most of the rest of the country.

Despite steep job losses, Iowa is one of only a handful of states to report economic growth during the pandemic. From the end of 2019 through the end of 2020, Iowa's economy expanded by 0.5%. Meanwhile, the U.S. economy contracted by 2.4% over the same period.

All index components used to create this ranking were included at equal weight. All data used to create the index came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau. Additional state level data on economic output by industry from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This is how all 50 state economies rank.

RankStatePoverty rateMarch 2021 unemployment rateAvg. annual employment chg., March 2016 to March 2021Avg. annual GDP chg., Q4 2015 to Q4 2020
1Utah8.9%2.9%+2.0%+3.9%
2Idaho11.2%3.2%+2.3%+3.9%
3Washington9.8%5.4%+1.2%+4.3%
4Colorado9.3%6.4%+1.4%+2.8%
5New Hampshire7.3%3.0%+0.2%+0.6%
6Nebraska9.9%2.9%+0.0%+1.2%
7Minnesota9.0%4.2%-0.1%+1.1%
8Massachusetts9.4%6.8%+0.2%+1.4%
9Georgia13.3%4.5%+1.7%+2.2%
10Oregon11.4%6.0%+0.9%+2.8%
11Virginia9.9%5.1%-0.2%+1.2%
12Kansas11.4%3.7%+0.2%+1.1%
13Montana12.6%3.8%+0.5%+1.2%
14South Dakota11.9%2.9%+0.6%+0.8%
15Florida12.7%4.7%+0.9%+2.2%
16Maryland9.0%6.2%-0.6%+1.0%
17Arizona13.5%6.7%+1.9%+2.9%
18Wisconsin10.4%3.8%-0.2%+0.8%
19Vermont10.2%2.9%-1.9%-0.1%
20North Carolina13.6%5.2%+0.8%+1.7%
21Indiana11.9%3.9%+0.1%+1.5%
22South Carolina13.8%5.1%+0.9%+1.8%
23Maine10.9%4.8%-0.7%+1.0%
24Alabama15.5%3.8%+1.3%+1.1%
25Tennessee13.9%5.0%+1.2%+1.0%
26Missouri12.9%4.2%-0.0%+0.7%
27New Jersey9.2%7.7%-0.9%+0.3%
28Iowa11.2%3.7%-0.9%+0.3%
29Ohio13.1%4.7%+0.0%+0.7%
30North Dakota10.6%4.4%-0.6%-0.4%
31Texas13.6%6.9%+0.6%+1.7%
32California11.8%8.3%-0.6%+2.4%
33Delaware11.3%6.5%+0.4%-0.6%
34Nevada12.5%8.1%+1.5%+1.9%
35Michigan13.0%5.1%-0.6%+0.4%
36Wyoming10.1%5.3%-0.4%-1.6%
37Rhode Island10.8%7.1%-0.8%-0.5%
38Oklahoma15.2%4.2%+0.4%-0.6%
39Pennsylvania12.0%7.3%-0.8%+0.6%
40Illinois11.5%7.1%-1.6%+0.2%
41New York13.0%8.5%-0.8%+0.8%
42Arkansas16.2%4.4%+0.1%+0.6%
43Alaska10.1%6.6%-0.8%-0.8%
44Connecticut10.0%8.3%-2.4%+0.1%
45Kentucky16.3%5.0%-0.1%+0.5%
46Hawaii9.3%9.0%-2.1%-0.5%
47West Virginia16.0%5.9%+0.3%-0.2%
48New Mexico18.2%8.3%-0.1%+1.1%
49Mississippi19.6%6.3%+0.1%+0.5%
50Louisiana19.0%7.3%-0.8%+0.3%