WalletHub Shutdown Report: Most & Least Affected States

by John S Kiernan

Government Shutdown Report Most Least Affected StatesBelieve or not, but hundreds of thousands of federal employees missing work may prove to be just the beginning of the 2013 government shutdown story.  Not only will the economy incur exponentially more damage the longer the shutdown lasts, but as logistical limitations mount and already-appropriated funds run dry, the personal stories of hardship and suffering will become more numerous and dire as well.  From senior citizens who can’t obtain the Social Security money they depend on for survival to students who are unable to secure the loans they need to pursue higher education, the unintended consequences of these nonsensical political games will continue to mount until we hit a breaking point.  The question is whether the breakthrough will come in the form of a practical resolution to the standoff or irreparable damage to the country’s economy and reputation?

Interestingly enough, while sick children and disappointed World War II veterans have only been able to prompt piecemeal funding proposals, the anger of key constituencies may just prove to be the impetus needed to break the Congressional stalemate, particularly since Republican-leaning states stand to be hit disproportionately hard by a prolonged shutdown.

WalletHub came to that conclusion after analyzing seven key areas in which government inoperability will affect citizens and then ranking their relative impact on each of the 50 states as well as the District of Columbia.  More information about these metrics as well as a breakdown of our findings can be found below.

Main Findings

  • DC, Maryland, Alaska, Hawaii, and Virginia have the most federal workers per capita and are thus disproportionately affected by the shutdown’s immediate impact.
  • DC, Virginia, Alaska, New Mexico, and Maryland receive the most federal contract money per capita, which means folks in those areas stand to lose out even if they don’t technically work for the federal government.
  • Small business owners from the Dakotas, Colorado, Alaska, and Michigan who are looking for funding are hurt most by an inability to garner SBA loans, as those states have displayed the highest small business borrowing rates in recent years.
  • Officials in West Virginia, Maine, Arkansas, Alabama, and Vermont should be particularly concerned about a prolonged shutdown, as their states have the most senior citizens per capita.
  • Delayed mortgage closing will have the largest impact on Hawaii, Florida, Arizona, Maryland, and Louisiana – the five states in which real estate accounts for the greatest portion of gross product.
  • Disruptions to federal student aid programs would be especially harmful to Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Louisiana, as those states boasted the greatest number of FAFSA applications per capita during the third quarter of 2013.
  • Alaska, Virginia, Montana, Wyoming, and Maine have the most veterans per capita and would therefore suffer most from a lack of VA funding, which could result from a drawn out shutdown.



Data Tables & Graphs

Most & Least Affected States – Overall (1 = most affected)

Rank State Rank State Rank State
1 Virginia 18 Pennsylvania 35 Rhode Island
2 Alaska 19 South Carolina 36 Illinois
3 Alabama 20 Oklahoma 37 New Hampshire
4 District of Columbia 21 Vermont 38 Arkansas
5 Maine 22 Georgia 39 West Virginia
6 Maryland 23 Wyoming 40 North Carolina
7 New Mexico 24 Tennessee 41 Michigan
8 Colorado 25 Kentucky 42 Louisiana
9 Idaho 26 Texas 43 Kansas
10 Hawaii 27 Mississippi 44 Delaware
11 Washington 28 Florida 45 Nebraska
12 South Dakota 29 California 46 Nevada
13 Missouri 30 Massachusetts 47 Wisconsin
14 Utah 31 Oregon 48 Minnesota
15 Arizona 32 Ohio 49 New York
16 Montana 33 New Jersey 50 Indiana
17 North Dakota 34 Connecticut 51 Iowa

States with the Most Federal Employees Per Capita

Rank State Rank State
1 Washington, D.C. 6 New Mexico
2 Maryland 7 Montana
3 Alaska 8 Wyoming
4 Hawaii 9 Utah
5 Virginia 10 South Dakota

States with the Most Federal Contracting Dollars Per Capita

Rank State Rank State
1 Washington, D.C. 6 Connecticut
2 Virginia 7 Colorado
3 Alaska 8 Missouri
4 New Mexico 9 Idaho
5 Maryland 10 Massachusetts

States Most Affected by Disruption of SBA Loans

Rank State Rank State
1 North Dakota 6 Montana
2 South Dakota 7 Maine
3 Colorado 8 Idaho
4 Alaska 9 Wyoming
5 Michigan 10 Oregon

States Most Affected by Social Security Funding Shortages

Rank State Rank State
1 West Virginia 6 South Carolina
2 Maine 7 Florida
3 Arkansas 8 Kentucky
4 Alabama 9 Mississippi
5 Vermont 10 Michigan

States That Rely Most on Real Estate

Rank State Rank State
1 Hawaii 6 California
2 Florida 7 Rhode Island
3 Maryland 8 Nevada
4 Arizona 9 Montana
5 New Jersey 10 Maine

States with the Most Q3 2013 FAFSA Applications Per Capita

Rank State Rank State
1 Georgia 6 Florida
2 Mississippi 7 Minnesota
3 Arkansas 8 Alabama
4 South Carolina 9 North Carolina
5 Louisiana 10 New Jersey

States with the Most Veterans Per Capita

Rank State Rank State
1 Alaska 6 West Virginia
2 Virginia 7 South Dakota
3 Montana 8 Oklahoma
4 Wyoming 9 South Carolina
5 Maine 10 Washington


It’s interesting to note that even this study was affected by the government shutdown, as key federal data sources – including the Census Bureau and the Small Business Administration – have been disrupted due to a lack of manpower.  WalletHub was nevertheless able to garner enough information from other public data sources to analyze each state and the District of Columbia in terms of the following seven metrics.

  • Federal Workers Per Capita (weight = 1):  Provides a sense of where the largest population segments are currently out of work due to the shutdown.  This metric was given full weight in the study because the effects are already being realized.
  • Federal Contract Dollars Per Capita (weight = 1):  Illustrates which areas of the country rely most heavily on federal contracting work, much of which has also been put on stand-by due to the shutdown.
  • Small Business Lending Per Capita (weight = 0.5):  Identifies which areas of the country tend to be most reliant on loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration – applications for which cannot be processed during the shutdown.
  • Real Estate as Percentage of GSP (weight = 0.25):  Gauges where real estate is most important to the local economy and therefore which areas of the country stand to suffer most due to FHA staffing shortages and the inability of lenders to verify applicants’ income via tax returns and thus proceed to loan closings.
  • Social Security Payments Per Capita (weight = 0.20):  Illustrates where a disruption to Social Security payments – which President Obama says will occur without an increase to the debt ceiling – will be felt most acutely.
  • Student Aid Applications Per Capita (weight = 0.20):  While Pell Grants and federal direct student loans for the 2013-14 school year will not be affected by the government shutdown, drastically reduced staff and concerns about the debt ceiling stand to cause long waits for FAFSA application processing as well as funding issues in the future.  In addition, government-sponsored initiatives such as Race to the Top, Investing in Innovation, and Promise Neighborhoods are due to run out of money on Dec. 31.
  • Number of Veterans Per Capita (weight = 0.20):  The Department of Veterans Affairs only has enough money to cover disability and pension claims as well as educational and rehabilitation benefits through October.  This metric identifies the areas that will be hit hardest as a result of dwindling funds.

Data used to conduct this study is courtesy of the Department of Education, the U.S. Small Business Administration, Realtor.org, the Brookings Institute, FedsDataCenter.com, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  For each metric, the most recent data available was used.


John Kiernan is Senior Writer & Editor at Evolution Finance. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a BA in Journalism, a minor in Sport Commerce & Culture,…
1930 Wallet Points


By: Grb2980
Oct 9, 2013
It would be interesting to compare the data to the "red state/blue state' map. I wonder if there is a correlation between the flow of federal dollars to each state and which presidential candidate carried which state in 2012 & 2008.
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