Recently, reached out to us about their blog titled "America's Top 12 Thriving Cities" and told us Baton Rouge made the cut! Check out the research they did for each city and how they came to their conclusions. Click here to visit their website!
North Dakota capitol statue


They’ve attracted the likes of Jesse Ventura, Nelson Rockefeller and Arnold Schwarzenegger. State capitals may not be as glamorous or as talked about as Washington, DC, but the people running them still wield plenty of influence.
Not everyone choosing to live in a state capital moves into the governor’s mansion, though. Some people are looking for steady work and good pay. They can look no further than the cities on our list of America’s Top 12 Thriving State Capitals.
We drew up this list using data on population growth, per-capita income growth, unemployment rate and poverty rate. Growth in population and per-capita income boosted a city’s score, and growth in the unemployment and poverty rate reduced it. We compared 2012 data, the latest numbers available, with 2010 data.
Here is our list of America’s Top 12 Thriving State Capitals.


Bismarck ND
Thanks in large part to the state’s energy boom, per-capita income here grew faster than anywhere else, and the drop in the poverty rate was second among all state capitals. Even though the unemployment rate was extremely low (3.2 percent) to begin with, it dropped even further (to 2.8 percent). Only one state capital (Pierre, SD) has a lower unemployment rate.
City population: 61,941
Population growth: 3.3 percent
Change in per-capita income: 10.1 percent
Change in unemployment rate: -12.5 percent
Change in poverty rate: -9.3 percent


Juneau AK
Per-capita income here grew substantially. At $37,917, Juneau’s per-capita income is second only to Annapolis, MD, among state capitals.
City population: 31,636
Population growth: 2.1 percent
Change in per-capita income: 8.6 percent
Change in unemployment rate: -12.1 percent
Change in poverty rate: -1.5 percent


Frankfort KY
Frankfort scored well in three of our four metrics. Its poverty rate did increase, though, and even though unemployment dropped, it’s still fairly high at 9.8 percent.
City population: 26,745
Population growth: 4.1 percent
Change in per-capita income: 3 percent
Change in unemployment rate: -1 percent
Change in poverty rate: 3.8 percent


Helena MT
Helena’s population and per-capita income grew, and its unemployment rate remained at just 5.2 percent. However, its poverty rate rose.
City population: 28,381
Population growth: 2.6 percent
Change in per-capita income: 7.2 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 0 percent
Change in poverty rate: 5.8 percent


Baton Rouge LA
Baton Rouge made our list largely thanks to its growing per-capita income and falling poverty rate. Keeping it from a higher ranking were a barely budging population and growing unemployment.
City population: 229,174
Population growth: 0.01 percent
Change in per-capita income: 3.7 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 4.5 percent
Change in poverty rate: -3.1 percent


Augusta ME
Maine’s capital scored well on two of our metrics: increasing per-capita income and decreasing unemployment. On the other two metrics, though, it fared less well.
City population: 19,088
Population growth: -0.3 percent
Change in per-capita income: 4 percent
Change in unemployment rate: -4.3 percent
Change in poverty rate: 5.8 percent


Denver CO
The Mile High City’s got a fair number of new residents, and the poverty rate is falling as incomes grow. Unfortunately, though, unemployment went up.
City population: 604,356
Population growth: 4.5 percent
Change in per-capita income: 5.8 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 10.3 percent
Change in poverty rate: -1.6 percent


Montpelier VT
Yes, Montepelier’s unemployment rate jumped, but its poverty rate fell almost as dramatically. Per-capita income rose, too.
City population: 7,847
Population growth: -0.7 percent
Change in per-capita income: 4.2 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 30.2 percent
Change in poverty rate: -26.8 percent


Columbus OH
The home of Ohio State University scored well on population and income growth, but was held back its unemployment and poverty numbers.
City population: 790,168
Population growth: 2.6 percent
Change in per-capita income: 4 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 5.6 percent
Change in poverty rate: 2.8 percent


Boston MA
Beantown’s residents are enjoying higher incomes but also dealing with higher unemployment.
City population: 619,662
Population growth: 2.8 percent
Change in per-capita income: 5.4 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 10.8 percent
Change in poverty rate: 0 percent


Oklahoma City OK
Although per-capita income and population grew, so did the unemployment and poverty rates.
City population: 581,094
Population growth: 3.1 percent
Change in per-capita income: 2.3 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 3.1 percent
Change in poverty rate: 6 percent


Richmond VA
Richmond’s population and income growth put it on our list, but its unemployment and poverty growth kept it from ranking higher.
City population: 205,348
Population growth: 1.7 percent
Change in per-capita income: 2.9 percent
Change in unemployment rate: 4.8 percent
Change in poverty rate: 5.5 percent
For the ranking, we used U.S. Census Bureau data and calculated percentage changes for each of the categories, which is different from a percentage-point change. For example, the unemployment rate in Bismarck dropped from 3.2 percent in 2010 to 2.8 percent in 2012, a percentage-point decline of 0.004 (0.032-0.028) and a percentage decline of 12.5 (0.028-.032/0.032). This method ensures we accurately compare data across cities. Need a little further explanation? Wikipedia has one.
We equally weighted the four data points. Three of the four relate directly to the economy, so economic conditions were the main driver of the rankings, but population growth counted, too.
Data source: U.S. Census Bureau

Posted by:
Christy Chachere, Visit Baton Rouge

Christy is the Communications Coordinator for Visit Baton Rouge. Born and raised in Louisiana, she loves everything southern and charming. After graduating from LSU in 2011, she began her new journey promoting our lovely city day after day! She's loves everything Baton Rouge has to offer travelers and locals alike and will keep you in the know! You can find her blogging here and posting on Visit Baton Rouge's Facebook,  Instagram,  TwitterPinterestLinkedIn and more!