2013 American Dream State Report Card

By Edward Burghard

Even though your grades might not be what you were hoping for, they don’t mean that your future is hopeless, that you’re a failure, or you won’t be able to achieve great things.

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Did Your State Earn An A, B, or C?

This is the first time we have had an opportunity to look at the longitudinal changes of states in enabling residents to achieve their American Dream.  The 2013 American Dream State Report Card assigns a letter grade for each state using the following simple algorithm:

A = Top 10 ranking

B = Middle 31 ranking

C = Bottom 10 ranking

To help provide a little more perspective, plus and minuses were assigned based on this criteria:

Plus = The state moved up in grade from C to B or A; or from B to A

Minus = The state moved down in grade from A to B or C; or from B to C

And, to help you understand the direction of the actual score:

Up means the score was higher in 2013 than 2012

Down means the score was lower in 2013 than 2012

Note, it is possible for a state to have a higher absolute score in 2013 and a lower ranking than it had in 2012.  Ranking is relative and impacted by how other states did in 2013.  The rank is not predicated on absolute score change.

Quick Facts

  • Four of the top 10 states have an A+ grade.
  • Six of the bottom 10 states have a C- grade.
  • In the middle, 7 states are graded B+ and 4 states are graded B-.
  • Nine states improved their ADCI score by 5% or greater.
  • Only one state’s score declined by 5%.

Does Year-Over-Year Performance Matter?

If you believe economic development professionals and elected officials should have the aspiration of better enabling residents to achieve their American Dream, then the Report Card is a simple way of assessing relative progress.  A state’s ADCI score can be affected by its choices around asset creation, infrastructure investment and the public policy.

Another interesting perspective is in 2014, 36 states are holding Gubernatorial elections.  The perception of residents regarding the degree to which they are achieving their American Dream should be a perspective of interest.  A minus next to a state’s grade should provide cause to pause and dig deeper to understand the drivers behind resident sentiment.  Did the choices made by the incumbent Administration create barriers to residents achieving their American Dream?  Conversely, for states with a grade that has a plus did choices made by the current Administration help make it easier for residents to achieve their American Dream?

What Is Your State’s Grade?

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Note:  The goal of the rankings is to educate readers about the American Dream and stimulate a conversation around how residents can be better enabled to achieve more of their American Dream.  For purposes of State Rankings, the ADCI data is considered secondary data.  The ADCI research hypothesis is to value the American Dream as a nation (all 50 states and DC together).  Respondents self-identify their states (this is verified with PII data) every month, but this information is only used as a balancing item for state population strata based on the most recent census.  The State Ranking is non-scientific and done as an illustrative piece by the Burghard Group for the purpose of educating leaders on the quality of life around the country.  It is impossible to accurately measure the error rate given that neither a uniform nor standard rate is gathered from each state every month.  Data is compiled for the year for each state and then evaluated.  Readers of the Report are encouraged to check their state’s ADCI scores against relative Region scores and the national scores for a well balanced perspective on overall performance. 

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