WASHINGTON — Arizona and seven other Western states outperformed the rest of the country in economic growth during much of the 1990s while Hawaii and Alaska suffered the worst growth rates, the Commerce Department said Monday.
Arizona led all other states during the 1992-99 period, turning in an average growth rate of 7.3 percent. Neighboring Nevada was not far behind with average growth of 7.0 percent, according to a new report on economic activity during what has become the country’s longest economic expansion.
During the 1992-99 period, the national economy was growing at average annual rates of 4 percent.
In addition to Arizona and Nevada, states that did significantly better than the 4 percent national average were Oregon, with an economy averaging growth of 6.8 percent, followed by Colorado, 6.6 percent; Idaho, 6.6 percent; New Hampshire, 6.3 percent; Utah, 6.3 percent; New Mexico, 6.2 percent; Georgia, 5.8 percent; Texas, 5.4 percent; and North Carolina, 5.1 percent.
Most of the states enjoying high growth rates were seeing big gains in the manufacture and sale of computers and related products such as software programs.
But at the other end of the scale, Hawaii turned in the worst economic performance during this period, with its economy actually shrinking on average by 0.3 percent. Government analysts said that the state had trouble emerging from the last recession, in 1990-91, and then was hard hit by the 1997-98 Asian currency crisis, which cut into the state’s tourism business.
Alaska was next to last in the growth category with an average increase of just 0.5 percent during the eight-year period. Other states with weak performances were West Virginia, 2.4 percent average; Wyoming, 2.5 percent; North Dakota, 2.5 percent; Maine, 2.6 percent; Montana, 2.7 percent; Pennsylvania, 2.8 percent; New Jersey, 2.9 percent; Vermont, 3.0 percent; Maryland, 3.0 percent; and Rhode Island, 3.0 percent.
In the 12 states with the weakest growth rates, gains in high-tech industries were offset by significant weakness in old-line manufacturing industries such as apparel and textiles and lumber and wood products.
California, with the biggest economy, averaged growth of 3.9 percent during the eight-year period, just under the national average but far below many of its fast-growing Western neighbors. Its economy was slow to emerge from the 1990-91 recession, reflecting in part big cutbacks in federal spending on defense, which hit California particularly hard.
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