The West/Central region of the United States boasted the strongest economy during the first quarter of 1992, according to the latest statewide economic indicator analysis by Kemper Securities Group.

Ranked in order of economic strength were: South Dakota, Utah, North Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, Missouri, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Idaho.

"The West/Central region is the best performing area," said Brad Langs, a tax-exempt fixed-income analyst at Kemper. "They had their problems in the 1980s with oil prices falling and agricultural farming problems, but they've come back."

Though the report found that the East Coast states continued to be the weakest performers, several showed signs of improvement. For example, Massachusetts emerged from the bottom 10 for the first time since the study began in the first quarter 1991, showing improvement in home sales and unemployment, Mr. Langs said. New Hampshire, Delaware, and Vermont also improved, he said.

Kemper measures the performance of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of employment growth, home sales, mortgage delinquencies, mortgage foreclosures, and unemployment rates. The 10 strongest and 10 weakest states were determined on the basis of the percentage change from the first quarter of 1991.

At the bottom, ranked in order of economic weakness, were: New York, Connecticut, California, Rhode Island, Maryland, West Virginia, Washington D.C., New Jersey, Maine, and Oregon.

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