More than two-thirds of U.S. state economies strengthened during the last three months of 2011, the widest advance in more than year, illustrating the spread of a recovery fueled by manufacturing and energy production.
The Bloomberg Economic Evaluation of States shows energy-rich North Dakota was the top performer in the fourth quarter, compared with the previous three months, followed by West Virginia, Nevada and Oklahoma. The gauge uses data on real estate, taxes, jobs and stock prices to chart the trajectory of 50 state economies. Michigan, Illinois, Idaho, Minnesota, Ohio and Florida rounded out the top 10.
The U.S. economy has been expanding as employers add jobs at a faster pace and consumers become more confident about their prospects, encouraging them to spend more on big-ticket items such as automobiles. That’s helped lift Midwest manufacturing, while energy production has boosted resource-rich states.