Debt per capita: $3,282 (22nd lowest)
Budget deficit: None
Unemployment: 3.5% (the lowest)
Median household income: $51,704 (20th highest)
Percentage below poverty line: 12.2% (13th lowest)
For the first time, North Dakota tops our list as the best run state in the country. In recent years, its oil boom has transformed the state's economy. Last year, crude oil production rose 35%. As of August 2012, the use of hydraulic fracturing in the state's Bakken shale formation had transformed it into the second-largest oil producer in the country. That energy boom brought a jobs boom to North Dakota, which had the nation's lowest unemployment rate in 2011 at 3.5%.
Between 2010 and 2011, North Dakota's GDP jumped 7.6%, by far the largest increase in the nation. This growth has also increased home values, which rose a nation-leading 29% between 2006 and 2011. North Dakota and Montana are the only two states that have not reported a budget shortfall since fiscal 2009.
By 24/7 Wall St.
Note: A previous version of this slide show illustrated "North Dakota" with an image of Mount Rushmore, which is, of course, in South Dakota. We thank our readers for pointing out the mistake, and regret the error. (And yes, the rig above really is pumping oil in the Bakken shale, in Tioga, N.D.)