Scrooge States: The Least Generous in the U.S.

The United Scrooges 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 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 bottom 25 here to establish who the "Scrooge states" are. To find out which states came in at the top of the rankings, check out the accompanying feature on "Santa states" on MainStreet. Photo Credit: GlenBledsoe


25. Wisconsin

Retail Spending: $24.74 billion Retail Spending Rank: 22/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 28.3% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.11% Giving Rank: 28/50 -- Overall Rank: 26/50 Photo Credit: barcar


24. Idaho (tie)

Retail Spending: $6.87 billion Retail Spending Rank: 41/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 25.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.58% Giving Rank: 10/50 -- Overall Rank: 27/50 Photo Credit: amanderson2


24. Ohio (tie)

Retail Spending: $43.59 billion Retail Spending Rank: 9/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 23.9% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.07% Giving Rank: 42/50 -- Overall Rank: 27/50 Photo Credit:  kla4067


22. Kansas

Retail Spending: $11.32 billion Retail Spending Rank: 35/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 24.3% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.48% Giving Rank: 17/50 -- Overall Rank: 29/50 Photo Credit: Claire Schmitt


21. Mississippi

Retail Spending: $14.44 billion Retail Spending Rank: 32/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 19.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.52% Giving Rank: 23/50 -- Overall Rank: 30/50 Photo Credit: Ken Lund


20. Delaware (tie)

Retail Spending: $5.38 billion Retail Spending Rank: 43/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 29.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.31% Giving Rank: 14/50 -- Overall Rank: 31/50 Photo Credit: sachindaluja


20. Indiana (tie)

Retail Spending: $30.01 billion Retail Spending Rank: 15/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 21.1% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.18% Giving Rank: 42/50 -- Overall Rank: 31/50 Photo Credit: Kevin Dooley


18. Arkansas (tie)

Retail Spending: $14.50 billion Retail Spending Rank: 31/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 19.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.37% Giving Rank: 30/50 -- Overall Rank: 33/50 Photo Credit: StuSeeger


18. Kentucky (tie)

Retail Spending: $20.11 billion Retail Spending Rank: 26/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 23.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.23% Giving Rank: 35/50 -- Overall Rank: 33/50 Photo Credit: Monique Wingard


16. Nevada

Retail Spending: $15.24 billion Retail Spending Rank: 30/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 25.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.16% Giving Rank: 32/50 -- Overall Rank: 35/50 Photo Credit: Matthias Ott


15. Montana (tie)

Retail Spending: $5.31 billion Retail Spending Rank: 44/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 22.8% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.38% Giving Rank: 23/50 -- Overall Rank: 36/50 Photo Credit: gene1138


15. Nebraska (tie)

Retail Spending: $7.93 billion Retail Spending Rank: 40/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 24.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.28% Giving Rank: 27/50 -- Overall Rank: 36/50 Photo Credit: Kables


13. Louisiana

Retail Spending: $23.67 billion Retail Spending Rank: 24/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 18.5% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.1% Giving Rank: 44/50 -- Overall Rank: 38/50 Photo Credit: Ray Devlin


12. Hawaii (tie)

Retail Spending: $92.51 billion Retail Spending Rank: 37/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 26% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.97% Giving Rank: 38/50 -- Overall Rank: 39/50 Photo Credit: PlassPhoto


12. Iowa (tie)

Retail Spending: $11.87 billion Retail Spending Rank: 34/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 24.3% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.09% Giving Rank: 41/50 -- Overall Rank: 39/50 Photo Credit: Nicholas_T


12. Rhode Island (tie)

Retail Spending: $3.81 billion Retail Spending Rank: 46/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 30.1% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.92% Giving Rank: 29/50 -- Overall Rank: 39/50 Photo Credit: Patricia Drury


9. New Hampshire

Retail Spending: $8.05 billion Retail Spending Rank: 39/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 26.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.86% Giving Rank: 40/50 -- Overall Rank: 42/50 Photo Credit: Leventhal Map Center


8. New Mexico (tie)

Retail Spending: $9.69 billion Retail Spending Rank: 36/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 19.2% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.99% Giving Rank: 44/50 -- Overall Rank: 43/50 Photo Credit: a4gpa


8. South Dakota (tie)

Retail Spending: $3.56 billion Retail Spending Rank: 47/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 14.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.39% Giving Rank: 33/50 -- Overall Rank: 43/50 Photo Credit: Mykl Roventine


6. Wyoming

Retail Spending: $2.66 billion Retail Spending Rank: 49/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 16.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 1.35% Giving Rank: 36/50 -- Overall Rank: 45/50 Photo Credit: Whatleydude


5. West Virginia

Retail Spending: $9.01 billion Retail Spending Rank: 38/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 13.1% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.9% Giving Rank: 49/50 -- Overall Rank: 46/50 Photo Credit: bradwicklund


4. Maine

Retail Spending: $5.95 billion Retail Spending Rank: 42/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 22.6% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.8% Giving Rank: 47/50 -- Overall Rank: 47/50 Photo Credit: fortes


3. Alaska

Retail Spending: $4.16 billion Retail Spending Rank: 45/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 18.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.98% Giving Rank: 48/50 -- Overall Rank: 48/50 Photo Credit: AlaskaDude


2. Vermont

Retail Spending: $2.51 billion Retail Spending Rank: 50/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 21.4% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.86% Giving Rank: 46/50 -- Overall Rank: 49/50 Photo Credit: _rockinfree


1. North Dakota

Retail Spending: $3.42 billion Retail Spending Rank: 48/50 -- Taxpayers Who Give (2009): 14.7% Avg. Proportion of Income Given (2009): 0.82% Giving Rank: 50/50 -- Overall Rank: 50/50 Photo Credit: afiler


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 top half of our Santa vs. Scrooge state rankings, check out MainStreet's Santa States: The Most Generous in the U.S.! Photo Credit: clevercupcakes


Show Comments

Back to Top