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States $5.1 trillion in debt, $16,178 per person

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Staff writer ▼ | January 9, 2014
State Budget Solutions, a national nonprofit, released an in-depth study revealing that states are a combined $5.1 trillion in debt. This equals roughly a staggering $16,178 for every man, woman and child.
DollarsState Budget Solutions, a national nonprofit, released an in-depth study revealing that states are a combined $5.1 trillion in debt. This equals roughly a staggering $16,178 for every man, woman and child.


$3.9 trillion in unfunded public pension promises is the single most negative factor. The report reveals that the extent to which state governments are saddling Americans with debt is largely hidden from the public eye.

State Budget Solutions' Fourth Annual State Debt Report examines unfunded public pension liabilities, outstanding debt, unfunded other post employment benefit liabilities, and outstanding unemployment trust fund loans to provide a comprehensive look at state obligations often obscured by traditional financial reporting.

California leads the nation with $778 billion in state debt, mostly as a result of the state's $584 billion unfunded public pension liability. New York ($388 billion), Texas ($341 billion), Illinois ($321 billion), and Ohio ($321 billion) round out the top 5 states with the largest amounts of state debt. The report also features an interactive map that highlights each state's debt.

While $5.1 trillion of debt is staggering in its own right, the study reveals that combined, state debt is equal to $16,178 for every resident of a U.S. state.

Alaska's state debt per capita is equal to $40,714 per person, followed by Hawaii ($33,111), Connecticut ($31,298), Ohio ($27,836), and Illinois ($24,959). Total state debt is also equal to 33 percent of state gross product, and 469 percent of all fiscal year 2012 state general and other fund expenditures.

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