LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – A recent study ranked every state’s economy in 2022, and Kentucky seems to be lagging behind.

“In order to determine which states are pulling the most weight even during this time of economic difficulty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 key indicators of economic performance and strength. Our data set ranges from GDP growth to startup activity to the share of jobs in high-tech industries” said WalletHub.

According to the study, Kentucky is surrounded by a diverse set of economies, some stronger and some lagging behind.

The Commonwealth came in at 42nd out of 51. Innovation potential was the lowest sub ranking at 46, but Kentucky’s healthiest ranking economic activity at 28 did keep the state out of the basement. Kentucky’s economic health fell between those two numbers at 37.

West Virginia was the lowest-ranked out of those listed with it coming in the bottom five in independent inventor patents, start-up activity, high-tech industries, and very last in median annual household income.

Of Kentucky’s neighbors, North Carolina, Tennesse, and Virginia were the best performing. North Carolina had across the board high scores but didn’t score notably in any one category. Tennesee has had the highest increase in GDP. Virginia had the highest median annual household income.

Source: WalletHub

Despite Kentucky’s low ranking, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported positive growth in Kentucky’s GDP in 2021 between 5.7% to 6.8%. In 2019, Kentucky’s GDP ranked similarly to Greece, according to the American Enterprise Institute and the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

In May, Gov. Andy Beshear announced Kentucky’s lowest-ever unemployment rate.

“Kentucky’s economy is absolutely on fire, and today’s report shows that continued success is benefiting Kentuckians all across the commonwealth,” Beshear said at a news conference.

The highest-ranking states have made significant investments in innovation and technology, according to experts tied to the study.

“I would like to give a nod to the power of innovation and the American Entrepreneurial spirit – so possibly start with something like patents per capita. Then, I am a big believer in the idea that a strong economy should work for everyone – including middle income and lower-income workers – so I would say you want a low (cost of living adjusted) poverty rate. After that, maybe something general like the ratio of income per capita to a broad-based cost-of-living index. All the best models I have seen suggest people/workers like to move to places where that ratio is high and tend to move away from places where that ratio is low. We could round it out with two broad social indicators that families & children are doing well – maybe the lowest rates of incarceration for youth and young adults as well as something like high school graduation rates?”

Gregory S. Burge, Chair & Professor of Economics, University of Oklahoma

“Highly skilled workers value the same things we all do – communities that offer a high quality of living at a reasonable cost. They want their communities to have great schools, thriving employment opportunities, public safety, plus accessibility to get into the central city for a concert or out to a lake for a day on the water. States that want to retain their top talent – and attract others to migrate in – should work to improve their public education and health programming – and should provide business leaders opportunities to thrive. Providing high-quality infrastructure to serve both the private and public sector is also critical.”

Gregory S. Burge, Chair & Professor of Economics, University of Oklahoma

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