The Cato Institute has once again designated New York as the state with the lowest level of freedom in the United States. This assessment was based on a comprehensive evaluation of personal and economic freedoms using the “Freedom in the 50 States” study, which encompasses 230 distinct metrics. These metrics encompass various aspects, ranging from taxation and debt to eminent domain laws, occupational licensing, and drug policies, as outlined on the think-tank’s website.
New York’s ranking at the bottom of the freedom scale can be attributed to what the report characterizes as “crushing” state and local taxes, as well as a highly restrictive regulatory environment. Furthermore, the report suggests that there is little prospect of New York’s ranking improving in the near future.
What do you expect when the state’s largest city regulates how pizzerias bake pizza?
The Cato Institute’s analysis noted that New York has consistently occupied the position of the least free state in the nation since the inception of their data collection in 2000. The report specifically identifies economic freedom as the state’s most pronounced weakness, and it highlights a deteriorating trend in this regard.
While New York did receive relatively higher rankings in certain categories related to personal freedoms, such as ninth place in “incarceration,” sixteenth in “cannabis” regulations, and twentieth in “marriage freedom,” it still fared poorly in other personal freedom categories, including “gun rights” (#42) and “tobacco” (#49).
This latest ranking is consistent with the findings of the 2021 report, which similarly labeled New York as the least free state in the nation, emphasizing the state’s progressive policy stances. The 2021 report echoed concerns about both economic and personal freedoms in New York, characterizing it as an outlier among “blue” states due to its rankings of 50th in economic freedom and personal freedom.
The report showcased an interactive graph that complied the data, we posted a screenshot of it. Note the year freedoms dropped off or rose.
In contrast, New Hampshire secured the top spot as the freest state, narrowly surpassing Florida, which claimed the second position. The report attributes New Hampshire’s top ranking to its strong performance in both economic freedom (first place) and personal freedom (fourth place), a combination that is less prominent in the case of Florida, which excels in economic freedom but ranks only 22nd in personal freedom.
The four states with the least amount of freedoms were, New Jersey 47th, California 48th, Hawaii 49th, and New York ranked 50th.
The Cato Institute also offered recommendations for New York to enhance its freedom rankings. These suggestions include reducing spending across various categories, cutting taxes, reducing debt, abolishing rent control policies, and eliminating certificate-of-need laws that impact moving companies. Additionally, the report recommends reducing cigarette taxes, which are described as excessively high and akin to a form of prohibition.
The top five states were New Hampshire, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, and Arizona.