Stateline Story

Infographic: A Brief History of S&P's State Credit Ratings

  • August 12, 2011
  • By Carla Uriona and Mary Mahling

Last week, Standard & Poor's downgraded the federal government's AAA credit rating. While Washington had never experienced the sting of a downgrade before, California, Illinois, Michigan and New Jersey are all too familiar with the feeling, as this Stateline look at the past ten years of S&P state credit ratings actions shows. Overall, however, states experienced more upgrades than downgrades over the period – a better record than one might expect from what some have called a " lost decade." This year alone, S&P has upgraded six states, citing sound management of pension obligations in Idaho, a solid financial position in Nebraska and economic strength in Wyoming. John Sugden-Castillo, a director at S&P, told Stateline that the upgrades in those states indicates "a very strong performance throughout the past recession, and frankly a clear willingness from management to make the necessary adjustments, be they on the revenue side or expenditures side, to maintain structural balance."

-Christopher Swope

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