All you coastal elites, read and weep, the Wall Street Journal now makes it official:
While the overall numbers are still small compared to those of bigger states, North Dakota now outperforms the nation in everything from the percentage of college graduates under the age of 45 to per-capita numbers of engineering and science graduates. Median household income in 2009 was $49,450, up from $42,235 in 2000. That 17% increase over the last decade was three times the rate of Massachussetts and more than 10 times that of California.
What accounts for the state's success? Dakotans didn't bet the farm, so to speak, on solar cells, high-density housing or high-speed rail. Taxes are moderate—the state ranks near the middle in terms of tax per capita, according to the Tax Foundation—and North Dakota is a right-to-work state, which makes it attractive to new employers, especially in manufacturing. But the state's real key to success is doing the first things first—such as producing energy, food and specialized manufactured goods for which there is a growing, world-wide market. This is what creates the employment and wealth that can support environmental protection and higher education.
Update: And from the comments to the Wall Street Journal article, here's the report of the Campaign for Free Enterprise from the US Chamber of Commerce: