Contact: Paul Guequierre, Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream, [email protected]

WASHINGTON, November 2, 2022 – 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. This is according to the American Dream Prosperity Index (ADPI), released today by the Legatum Institute in partnership with the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream. This new nonpartisan Index brings together more than 200 indicators gathered from over 90 separate data sources and provides a comprehensive picture of prosperity across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and nearly 1,500 counties across 17 selected states.    

“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.”

Across the country, millions of Americans are facing challenges that continue to threaten prosperity. According to the 2022 ADPI, since 2012, all states apart from North Dakota have increased their prosperity, but prosperity remains unequally shared across and within states. For many people, 2022 has been a year of progress as the nation continues to economically recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this long-term rise in prosperity is tempered by rising gun violence in nearly every state. Since 2012, mental health has deteriorated in America, marked by a rise in suicides and opioid-related deaths, even as Americans’ overall health continues to improve.

ADPI’s key findings also point to waning social capital across the country as another roadblock to U.S. prosperity. In comparing the social capital pillar results from 2012 to 2022, there is a decreasing number of Americans who have helped a stranger, donated money to charity, volunteered, or frequently talked to a neighbor.

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, ADPI 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.

Prosperity is a multidimensional concept which the American Dream Prosperity Index seeks to measure, explore, and understand. The framework of the Index captures prosperity through three equally-weighted domains which are 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.

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.