Some states are fiscally responsible, while others treat their annual budgets as a rough estimate. According to World Population Review, the average American household has approximately $137,000 in debt – but that’s nothing compared to the enormous debts that certain U.S. states currently carry.
While calling these states “On the brink of total collapse” may be a tad dramatic, it doesn’t change the fact that some states are overdue to correct severe budget problems. Unlike the federal government, states can’t just print money to balance their budget, and many have been spending with no regard to the consequences. Here are the states that need to look closely at their books.
With an estimated $11,047 of debt per capita in 2023, Massachusetts leads the way regarding financial promiscuity. Think about it: For every person living in Massachusetts, there is over $11,000 in state debt. Not even states like California and Texas have such a disparity!
Unsurprisingly, Connecticut sits so high on this list at $10,679 of debt per capita – especially considering Connecticut is one of the most expensive states to live in. To be fair, the state is constantly re-investing in its infrastructure, but eventually, the other shoe will fall.
3. Rhode Island
As fate would have it, the smallest state in the country is saddled with enormous debt per capita – $8,191. This list is primarily impacted by the population density of each state – smaller, more tightly-packed states often lead to higher debts per capita.
Of course, outliers exist in nearly every scenario – Alaska comes in with $8,079 of debt per capita, even though it is the opposite of densely populated. While Alaska has the third-least overall debt in the U.S., with $76.74 billion in 2023, it doesn’t tax its residents on income, creating a natural disparity.
5. New York
The Empire State boasts $7,141 of debt per capita, which makes sense considering how many people long to live in New York. But, of course, the fact that the state requires an above-average household income to live comfortably doesn’t help matters, either.
6. New Jersey
As a former resident of New Jersey, I can’t believe they boast $7,117 of debt per capita. So what does all the money go towards? As one of the highest-taxed states in the country, I can tell you one thing: The money isn’t going to statewide beautification programs.
When you live in a state like Hawaii, do you even mind that the state is saddled with $6,737 of debt per capita? Somehow – in between enjoying the perfect weather and breathtaking beaches – I don’t think any Hawaiian cares!
8. New Hampshire
Once again, smaller states on the U.S. eastern seaboard have proven that they may not be as fiscally responsible as their southern and midwestern neighbors! With $5,517 of debt per capita, New Hampshire should tax Ben & Jerry’s ice cream more if they want to dig itself out of the mess it made.
Did Vermont and its next-door neighbor New Hampshire conspire to have nearly the same debt per resident? It’s unlikely, but Vermont’s $5,413 of debt per capita does raise some eyebrows – it’s an incredible coincidence!
Illinois should not be proud of its debt per capita of $4,995. While it’s under five thousand dollars per person, that amount still cracks the top ten – forty other states have less debt than Illinois. Perhaps the state government could place a renewed focus on responsible spending.
I’ve spent many summers on the beaches of Maryland, and while $4,554 of debt per capita isn’t something the state should be proud of, I’m sure they can work towards reducing this debt in the future. If the local government wanted to charge people to visit their beaches like New Jersey does to raise more money, I wouldn’t fight it – Maryland beaches are worth every penny!
Yet another tiny yet densely populated state makes the list. In 2023, Delaware reported $4,420 of debt per capita. Maybe Delaware will finally reassess its infamous “no sales tax” policy that makes it a haven for businesses and consumers alike. Money has to come from somewhere, right?
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Source: World Population Review