Best of the West: Western states’ strong recession recovery; Colorado-built InSight lands on Mars; Alaska Native students succeed in STEM

The Western Governors' Association keeps you updated on news of the West. Here are the western stories for the week starting Nov. 26, 2018, that you don't want to miss. Image: The Pew Charitable Trusts

Western states have made the strongest economic comeback following the Great Recession, according to The Pew Charitable Trusts. North Dakota leads the country in personal income growth, with a 3.3% increase in its residents’ personal income. After North Dakota, the next-largest growth rates since 2007 were in Utah, Washington, Colorado and Texas.

Population growth contributed to states’ financial results, and eight of the top ten fastest growing states over the past decade are in the West, including Utah, Texas, Colorado, North Dakota, Nevada, Washington, Idaho and Arizona.

In a separate study focused on Montana’s economy by The Long Streets Project, an illustrated map breaks down the state’s workforce by sector. The report also drills down into county-level data, which found that 70% of net job creation in the state between 2001 and 2016 was in five counties. Explore Montana’s economy hubs.  


Martian Mission: The Colorado-built spacecraft InSight successfully landed on Mars on Monday, Nov. 26 after a nearly seven-month journey. Lockheed Martin Space designed and built the lander that will study the Red Planet for two years. “For me, this is pretty much the highlight of my career today,” said Jessica Neilson, a systems engineering manager at Lockheed Martin who has worked on InSight since 2013. 

Wise Water Use: Water conservation is catching on in Utah. New water meters are being used to illustrate secondary water usage, which is not used for drinking or bathing, to property owners. The deputy director of Utah’s Division of Water Resources reports that use of the meters has resulted in a 36% reduction in water use on landscapes in the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District.

Full STEM Ahead: The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, a residential summer program in Anchorage, supports native students pursuing STEM. Learn how the program is shattering stereotypes and helping Alaska Native children outperform most of the rest of the country on measures of math and science.   

Dino-score: The first confirmed finding of a dinosaur fossil in Oregon was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology last month. A University of Oregon paleontologist found the toe bone of an ornithopod, a plant-eating dinosaur, while looking for fossilized ammonites with students.

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