How much debt does your state’s government have per person?

The average per capita debt across all 50 states in 2018 was $3,600. Nineteen states were above this per-capita average, with 31 states below. In 2000, average state debt per capita was $1,942.

In 2018, the states with the least debt per capita were: 

  • Tennessee ($929 per capita)
  • Nebraska ($1,068)
  • Nevada ($1,135)
  • Georgia ($1,266)
  • Florida ($1,299). 

The states with the highest debt per capita were: 

  • Massachusetts ($11,423)
  • Connecticut ($11,280)
  • Rhode Island ($8,593)
  • Alaska ($8,011)
  • and New York ($7,576). 

The US Census Bureau defines debt as “all long-term credit obligations of the government and its agencies whether backed by the governments’ full faith and credit or non-guaranteed, and all interest-bearing short-term credit obligations,” and includes “judgments, mortgages, and revenue bonds, as well as general obligations bonds, notes, and interest-bearing warrants.” State debt includes financial arrangements where a state-affiliated institution (like a public university), a hospital, or a quasi-governmental authority (like a stadium district) issues debt that the state government guarantees, but the entity makes the debt payments. The definition does not include underfunded pension obligations as state debt.




About the author

James McAllister

James McAllister is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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