Today, the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, in partnership with the Legatum Institute, released the 2022 American Dream Prosperity Index. This new nonpartisan Index uses over 90 separate data sources to measure, explore and understand prosperity throughout the US. This comprehensive picture of prosperity includes all 50 states, the District of Columbia and nearly 1,500 counties across 17 selected states.
In 2022, the United States saw a post-pandemic rise in prosperity, even as the country faced the long-term impacts of COVID-19 and the economic realities of rising inflation and a shrinking economy. While the overall trend points to a more prosperous nation, regional prosperity continues to be unequally distributed, often eluding rural communities and Black Americans.
“While our nation faces many challenges including record inflation, increased gun violence, and a deteriorating mental health landscape, we are encouraged by the resiliency of communities across our country as they work to create prosperous lives for their residents,” said the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream President Kerry Healey. “The American Dream Prosperity Index was founded on the principle that better data leads to better decisions and outcomes. It is our goal to make this report one of the most important tools for local, state and federal lawmakers and civic leaders.”
“We are encouraged by the steady rebound of prosperity post-pandemic, even in the face of unique regional challenges,” said Legatum Institute CEO Philippa Stroud. “The foundations of the U.S. economy continue to stand strong, particularly due to the innovative entrepreneurial mindset that Americans are known for. This forward momentum highlights the genuine push towards prosperity in the face of continued adversity.”
What is Prosperity?
Prosperity is a multidimensional concept. The framework of the Index utilizes three equally-weighted domains, considered to be the essential foundations of prosperity — Inclusive Societies, Open Economies, and Empowered People. These domains are made up of 11 pillars of prosperity, built upon 49 actionable policy areas, and are underpinned by more than 200 reliable indicators, brought together from over 90 distinct data sources.
ADPI National Patterns toward Greater Prosperity:
- In 2022, 26 states have recovered to pre-pandemic levels of overall prosperity, with Oklahoma, New Jersey and New Mexico seeing the biggest improvement. Reasons for the improvement in these states vary, but economic factors such as the increasing number of entrepreneurs played a key role in the post-pandemic rebound and bodes well for further improvement.
- Over the past decade, Americans' physical health have improved. Since 2012, rates of smoking have fallen by nearly a third, excessive alcohol use has decreased by 17% and pain reliever misuse has decreased by 21%.
- The long-term downward trend in property crime is an encouraging development across the United States, with all but seven states improving over the past decade.
ADPI Key Findings:
- While U.S. prosperity rebounded post-pandemic in 2022; looking forward inflation may threaten further progress.
- U.S. prosperity increased across America in all states in varying degrees, except in North Dakota; but it remains unequally distributed within states.
- High and rising gun crime, across all but six states, is impacting Americans’ individual sense of their security.
- Mental health levels have weakened in all states.
- A continuing decline in social cohesion and group relationships at all levels of America’s society risks impeding a common resolve to addressing the barriers to prosperity.
Although the data does highlight a substantial number of barricades to prosperity, the Index can be used to craft unique solutions across all levels of government. A deeper examination of prosperity, prompted by the Index, can reveal individual issues that each state can tackle in order to advance the prosperity of its citizens. This push towards the development of local data-led initiatives, rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach, is essential for transformation across the country. The Index has been designed to benefit a wide range of users, including state and county leaders, policymakers, investors, business leaders, philanthropists, journalists, researchers and U.S. citizens.
View the 2022 ADPI here.
View the state-by-state prosperity rankings here.
View state-by-state rankings in specific categories by clicking on the category below.