BOSTON — After failing to crack the top 10 the last time rankings were compiled, the Massachusetts economy is the strongest in the country this time around, according to rankings compiled by Governing magazine.
The Bay State took the top spot in the rankings, which were based on six factors including the current unemployment rate, per capita state GDP, personal income per capita, and the change in those categories over the last year. Rounding out the top five were Oregon, Delaware, Colorado and California, respectively.
Louis Jacobson, a Governing columnist who ranked the state economies, wrote that he found a connection between a state's economic performance and its governor's approval rating.
"The approval ratings for governors of the top 10 states averaged 62.1 percent, while the gubernatorial approval ratings for those in the bottom 10 averaged 50.8 percent," Jacobson wrote. "No governor in the top 10 states had an approval rating lower than 54 percent, while six of the governors in the bottom 10 states had approval ratings below 50 percent."
Gov. Charlie Baker, with his 72 percent approval rating, is the most popular governor in America, according to a survey conducted from January until early May by Morning Consult.
"Baker has been in office less than two years and is seen as a positive for the state's economy moving forward," Tufts University political scientist Jeffrey Berry said in Jacobson's column. But, he added, "No one sees him as primarily responsible for the high growth rate or low unemployment that we currently enjoy."
When Jacobson and Governing last ranked state economies, in 2013, Massachusetts fell somewhere between 11 and 35 on the list. The magazine only published the top 10 and bottom 15 states on its website.
Massachusetts' unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent in July as estimates showed 7,300 Bay State jobs added last month, the Office of Labor and Workforce Development reported last week. The state's jobless rate remains well below the national average of 4.9 percent.
In the last year of Gov. Deval Patrick's final term, 2014, the state's unemployment rate improved from 6.1 percent to 5.2 percent. The jobless rate dropped to 4.9 percent during Baker's first year in office.
Associated Industries of Massachusetts earlier this month reported that "optimism dimmed across the board on employment, the Massachusetts economy and employers' outlook on their own companies" during July, but its Business Confidence Index rating remains in the range of an "overall positive economic outlook."