North Dakota leads the nation in personal income growth. No other state even comes close.

From 2008 to 2012, North Dakotans’ per-capita income jumped 31 percent to $57,367, the highest of any state and just behind Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

South Dakota came in a distant second at 10 percent.

A Federal Reserve study issued last week showed North Dakota leading the nation in “progress toward recovery” from 2007 to 2013.

California grabs headlines for shrinking its budget deficit, but the Golden State continues to experience high inflation. This erodes any income gains and grinds down the middle class.

North Dakota’s energy bonanza has imported loads of jobs that pay six figures, along with unprecedented investment opportunities for Dakotans and mineral rights that are minting a new generation of High Plains millionaires.

North Dakota’s triple taxation—personal income, corporate income and sales taxes—is an anomaly among high-growth states.

Even with that drag, Sorens and the Tax Foundation characterize North Dakota’s tax rates as “pretty low.”

“Fracking is obviously making a huge difference to their economy,” he said.

Most of the runner-up states are classified by Sorens as “relatively free.”

By contrast, laggards such as Illinois and New Jersey are “overall a much less free group,” burdened with higher taxes and job-killing regulations, he noted.