Fastest-growing U.S. states: Almost all are west of the Mississippi

The economy may have hit a soft patch in the first three months of 2018, but Washington and a handful of other far Western states skidded around the obstacles to growth.

Washington posted the best performance among the 50 U.S. states in the first quarter, the federal . Gross domestic product, the official yardstick for the economy, expanded at a 3.6% annual pace.

By contrast, the U.S. economy as a whole grew just 2% in the first quarter.

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Washington was one of only four states to reach the 3% mark. Utah grew 3.2%, South Dakota 3.1% and Colorado 3% to get on the exclusive list.

Rounding out the top five and just missing the cut was Texas. GDP in the Lone Star State rose 2.9%.

Washington was powered by the real estate market and so-called information services that are largely an offshoot of the state’s rapidly growing high-tech industry. Washington is the home to Amazon  , Microsoft  and other large tech outfits whose need for workers is part of what’s driving demand for housing.

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At the other end of the spectrum, North Dakota was the only state to experience a decline in GDP, falling 0.6%. The state’s growth has exploded in recent years owing to a surge in oil production  via fracking. Lower oil prices early in the year caused a temporary dip in energy extraction and related construction.

Also low on the totem pole: Arkansas, Maine, Kansas and Mississippi. Arkansas posted no growth whatsoever. Kansas grew just 0.5%, Maine 0.6% and Mississippi 0.7%.