(The Center Square) – North Carolina is listed as one of the most economically free states in North America in a recent report by the Fraser Institute, a Canadian public policy think tank.
The Institute’s Economic Freedom of North America reportreleased earlier this month, measures government spending, taxes and labor market restrictions in each Canadian province, as well as the US and Mexican states, based on 2020 data, and then ranks the states both within and within the three countries.
“The freest economies operate with minimal government interference and rely on personal choice and markets to answer fundamental economic questions such as what to produce, how to produce, how much to produce, and for whom production is destined is,” the report says. “As the government restricts those choices, there is less economic freedom.”
North Carolina’s international score of 7.97 ranked it 14th out of the 92 jurisdictions tested, along with Wyoming in the “most clear data quartile.” All government level ratings also include federal data.
Compared to the 50 United States and Puerto Rico at the “subnational level,” North Carolina ranks 9th with a score of 7.22, again in the “freest quartile.” The average score for the US states was 6.23. US scores ranged from top spot Florida at 7.94 to Puerto Rico at 2.04.
A breakdown of the data shows that North Carolina’s top score in the labor regulation category was 7.78, followed by 7.01 for government spending and 6.86 for taxes. The score for labor market regulation was the fifth highest nationally, behind only Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Virginia.
The results for government spending and taxes ranked 15th and 17th, respectively, relative to other US states and Puerto Rico. North Carolina scored 7.22 for government spending in 2019, 6.10 for taxes, and 7.63 for job freedom.
The 2020 results show that North Carolina’s all-government score fell slightly from 8.08 in 2019 and is now 0.18 points off a 2017 peak of 8.15. At the “subnational” level, North Carolina’s score improved nearly a quarter point over last year and 1.46 points from a 2010 low of 5.76.
All of the jurisdictions listed in the report’s top and second quartiles are US states, while the third quartile was a mix of US and Mexican states and Canadian provinces. The bottom quartile consisted entirely of Mexican states.
Florida is among the most economically free states in the USA, followed by New Hampshire, South Dakota, Texas, Tennessee, Virginia, North Dakota, Georgia, North Carolina, Idaho, Indiana, Utah and Oklahoma.
Among the least free states is Puerto Rico at number 51, behind New York, California, Hawaii, Vermont, Oregon, Maine, West Virginia, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Delaware, Alaska, Minnesota and New Jersey.