Santa States: The Most Generous in the U.S.

The United Santas of America

Christmas is a special time for many Americans, who like to convince themselves at this time of year that it really is better to give than to receive. But which are the most generous states in the country? To find out, MainStreet looked at two categories of spending largesse on an individual and state level. We looked at state-wide contributions to the national retail economy and individual-level donations to charity. Here is how we broke it down:
  • Using the most recent data (2009) for retail trade from the Census Bureau's Statistical Abstract, we ranked the states on absolute sales across seven categories: furniture, electronics/appliances, health/personal care products, clothing, sporting goods and media, general merchandise, and miscellaneous stores. We didn't control for population, since the states that put the most money into local and national stores make a generous contribution to the national consumer economy as a whole.
  • Using the most recent data from the census and the IRS (and compiled by the Fraser Institute), we ranked states on two metrics  the percentage of taxpayers who donate to charity and the average proportion of yearly income they donate  to order them based on their philanthropic generosity.
Combining all of these numbers into one cumulative ranking, we rank the top 25 here to establish who the "Santa states" are. To find out which states came in at the bottom of the rankings, check out the accompanying feature on "Scrooge states" on MainStreet. Photo Credit: istolethetv


25. Oklahoma (tie)

Retail Spending: $16.75 billion Retail Spending Rank: 29/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 21.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.54% Giving Rank: 20/50 -- Overall Rank: 25/50 Photo Credit: Getty Images


25. Missouri (tie)

Retail Spending: $27.98 billion Retail Spending Rank: 18/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 23.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.25% Giving Rank: 31/50 -- Overall Rank: 25/50 Photo Credit: happysteve


23. Pennsylvania

Retail Spending: $53.88 billion Retail Spending Rank: 6/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 24.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.09% Giving Rank: 38/50 -- Overall Rank: 23/50 Photo Credit: Tony the Misfit


22. Washington (tie)

Retail Spending: $32.09 billion Retail Spending Rank: 15/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 27.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.21% Giving Rank: 25/50 -- Overall Rank: 22/50 Photo Credit: fddi1


22. Tennessee (tie)

Retail Spending: $32.18 billion Retail Spending Rank: 14/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 19.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.5% Giving Rank: 26/50 -- Overall Rank: 22/50 Photo Credit: Exothermic


20. Texas

Retail Spending: $108.93 billion Retail Spending Rank: 2/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 19.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.29% Giving Rank: 36/50 -- Overall Rank: 20/50 Photo Credit: Getty Images


19. Oregon (tie)

Retail Spending: $19.21 billion Retail Spending Rank: 27/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 31% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.33% Giving Rank: 10/50 -- Overall Rank: 19/50 Photo Credit: bandita


19. Florida (tie)

Retail Spending: $99.07 billion Retail Spending Rank: 4/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 21.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.25% Giving Rank: 33/50 -- Overall Rank: 19/50 Photo Credit: Karen Horton


17. Massachusetts

Retail Spending: $29.44 billion Retail Spending Rank: 17/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 32.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.12% Giving Rank: 19/50 -- Overall Rank: 17/50 Photo Credit: Paul Keleher


16. South Carolina

Retail Spending: $21.58 billion Retail Spending Rank: 25/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 25.8% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.66% Giving Rank: 10/50 -- Overall Rank: 16/50 Photo Credit: Shoshanah


15. Utah (tie)

Retail Spending: $12.09 billion Retail Spending Rank: 33/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 33.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 3.09% Giving Rank: 1/50 -- Overall Rank: 15/50 Photo Credit: Pink Sherbet Photography


15. Connecticut (tie)

Retail Spending: $17.39 billion Retail Spending Rank: 28/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 36.3% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.36% Giving Rank: 6/50 -- Overall Rank: 15/50 Photo Credit: cliff1066


15. Arizona (tie)

Retail Spending: $32.21 billion Retail Spending Rank: 13/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 28.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.21% Giving Rank: 21/50 -- Overall Rank: 15/50 Photo Credit: Ken Lund


12. Alabama

Retail Spending: $24.12 billion Retail Spending Rank: 23/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 25% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.76% Giving Rank: 10/50 -- Overall Rank: 12/50 Photo Credit: southernpixel


11. Minnesota

Retail Spending: $25.15 billion Retail Spending Rank: 21/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 32.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.34% Giving Rank: 8/50 -- Overall Rank: 11/50 Photo Credit: adamsfelt


10. Colorado

Retail Spending: $25.31 billion Retail Spending Rank: 20/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 31% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.35% Giving Rank: 8/50 -- Overall Rank: 10/50 Photo Credit: Greg Younger


9. Illinois

Retail Spending: $57.16 billion Retail Spending Rank: 5/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 27.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.24% Giving Rank: 21/50 -- Overall Rank: 9/50 Photo Credit: laffy4k


8. New Jersey (tie)

Retail Spending: $40.35 billion Retail Spending Rank: 11/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 36.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.13% Giving Rank: 14/50 -- Overall Rank: 8/50 Photo Credit: Getty Images


8. Michigan (tie)

Retail Spending: $46.72 billion Retail Spending Rank: 7/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 26.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.33% Giving Rank: 18/50 -- Overall Rank: 8/50 Photo Credit: mrt77


6. Maryland

Retail Spending: $25.82 billion Retail Spending Rank: 19/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 40.8% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.67% Giving Rank: 1/50 -- Overall Rank: 6/50 Photo Credit: Scaramouche!


5. North Carolina (tie)

Retail Spending: $42.20 billion Retail Spending Rank: 10/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 28.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.56% Giving Rank: 7/50 -- Overall Rank: 5/50 Photo Credit: Synthetic Dreamer


5. California (tie)

Retail Spending: $180.49 billion Retail Spending Rank: 1/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 29.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.25% Giving Rank: 16/50 -- Overall Rank: 5/50 Photo Credit: tensaibuta


3. Virginia

Retail Spending: $40.67 billion Retail Spending Rank: 11/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 33.1% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.44% Giving Rank: 4/50 -- Overall Rank: 3/50 Photo Credit: Jeffrey Johnson


2. Georgia

Retail Spending: $43.97 billion Retail Spending Rank: 8/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 29.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.85% Giving Rank: 3/50 -- Overall Rank: 2/50 Photo Credit: totalAldo


1. New York

Retail Spending: $105.96 billion Retail Spending Rank: 3/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 30.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.52% Giving Rank: 5/50 -- Overall Rank: 1/50 Photo Credit: video4net


Tweet alongside us

Greg Emerson is a writer/editor for MainStreet. You can reach him by e-mail at greg.emerson@thestreet.com, or follow him on Twitter at @emersongreg. And if you haven't already, now is a great time to follow MainStreet itself on Twitter. You'll get all of our most important stories, right as they publish. Follow us @mainstr! For the bottom half of our Santa vs. Scrooge state rankings, check out MainStreet's Scrooge States: The Least Generous in the U.S.! Photo Credit: clevercupcakes


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