NC State Economist Dr. Mike Walden – State Debt

There’s continual discussion about the national debt, especially how big it is and how it has grown. But states can also take on debt, and we don’t hear as much about this borrowing. When it comes to debt, where does North Carolina rank among the states? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden answers.

“We look very good here. And I think it is … very important not just to focus on the national debt, but to look at state debt, also. I think that’s actually crucial. But again we look very good here in North Carolina. A recent study looked at the amount of state debt per person, sort of like people do at the national level, they take the national debt and say how much does each person effectively owe?

So, if we do that at the state level, the numbers for North Carolina are very low compared to other states. In fact, we rank 43rd among all 50 states in debt per person. So, we’re only seventh from the bottom, and this is a list where you really want to be low.

“The most indebted states in the nation are Massachusetts, Alaska, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey. Those with the least in-debtedness are Tennessee, Nebraska, Arkansas, Georgia and Texas.

“Now even if you look within our little region here in Southeast North Carolina, we do have less debt per person than our neighbor to the north, Virginia, and our neighbor to the south, South Carolina. We have a little more debt per person, though, than Tennessee and Georgia.”


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