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These are the worst states to live in right now

Published Oct 22nd, 2020 6:03PM EDT
best and worst states
Image: Design Pics/Keith Levit/Keith Levit/Newscom/The Mega Agency

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  • A ranking of the 50 U.S. states based on a variety of criteria shows which state is the “worst” right now.
  • Coronavirus testing, unemployment, and poverty are all factored in.
  • The worst state in the country pumps out roughly twice as much CO2 as the next worst state.

The United States is dealing with a lot right now. We have an election coming up that is putting everyone on edge, not to mention a lot of social unrest, wildfires, unemployment, and on top of it all, a viral pandemic. It’s really not a great vibe, and everyone is pretty stressed out about one thing or another. But what state is the worst to live in at the moment?

Again we turn to BestLife to help us answer that question. The site has amassed a pile of data that is has crunched down into a single “Worst State Index Score” for each state. You might be wondering what criteria make up a “bad” state, and luckily for you, I’m about to explain it.

So, the various data points that factor into the score are as follows:

  • Life expectancy (high is better)
  • Poverty rate (lower is better)
  • COVID test positive rate (lower is better)
  • Unemployment rate (lower is better)
  • Carbon dioxide emissions per year (lower is better)

To be totally honest, compared to some of the silly lists we’ve seen recently, this one actually has a pretty solid data set to work from. Sure, in the middle of a pandemic there’s going to be some big swings in unemployment and other numbers, and we can’t necessarily say that the “worst state” to live in based on this list will be the same in a year or even six months down the road, but the data is solid.

As far as the rankings go, let’s take a look at the best states to live in first:

State: Index Score (lower is better)

  1. Vermont: 50.85
  2. New Hampshire: 51.53
  3. Connecticut: 59.63
  4. Maine: 60.28
  5. Maryland: 64.40
  6. Delaware: 65.20
  7. North Dakota: 65.30
  8. Hawaii: 65.45
  9. Minnesota: 65.90
  10. Colorado: 66.28

Okay, not really many surprises here. Low poverty rates and low CO2 emissions really lift these states up in terms of likeability, and that makes perfect sense.

As for the “worst” states:

  1. Texas: 154.68 (!!!)
  2. California: 109.18
  3. Louisiana: 105.45
  4. Pennsylvania: 98.68
  5. Florida: 95.98
  6. Indiana: 95.20
  7. Ohio: 94.00
  8. Illinois: 93.03
  9. Alabama: 91.70
  10. Nevada: 91.20

So, Texas is clearly a major outlier here and it’s abundantly clear why that is. The state pumps out an incredible 707 million metric tons of CO2 per year, which is the highest by a long shot. The next biggest polluter is California at 359 million metric tons, and after that, the rates drop off dramatically. Vermont, for example, puts out just 6 million metric tons of CO2. SIX!

Anyway, if you don’t see your state on these lists that means it falls somewhere in the middle. You can dive into the full 50-state list over on BestLife’s website and see where you rank.