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These are the best and worst states to live in

Published Feb 23rd, 2021 4:16PM EST
state rankings
Image: Design Pics/Keith Levit/Keith Levit/Newscom/The Mega Agency

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  • Each state in the United States has positives things going for it, but there’s no denying that some states have more to offer than others.
  • A new 50-state ranking takes into account a variety of metrics that support a state’s “livability,” and some states rank far better than the rest.
  • Data like population changes, overall unemployment, poverty rates, and life expectancy all play a role in where the states land on the list.

Are some places really better to live than others? It’s a question that sparked fiery debates for ages, but is there actually hard data we can point to and say that one place is simply better for living than the rest? A new 50-state ranking attempts to answer that question by taking into account a variety of data ranging from life expectancy to poverty rates, and the final list is pretty interesting.

For the ranking, the site 247WallSt used official data sources that rank each state by three criteria. The data points include life expectancy at birth for newborns, the poverty rate, and the percentage of bachelor’s degrees attained, which is indicative of the health of a state’s higher education system. All of these metrics were then crunched into a single number and the states were ranked according to that data.

As we always like to do with rankings like this, let’s take a look at the bottom of the list first, in reverse order:

  1. Mississippi
  2. West Virginia
  3. Louisiana
  4. Arkansas
  5. Kentucky

There are a few key takeaways here. In addition to the data used to create the rankings, each state’s unemployment and population changes were also included for each, showing us some clear trends. Mississippi ended up at the very bottom of the list due to a nearly perfect storm of poverty rate (the highest in the nation) and low life expectancy (the 2nd lowest). The state also had the overall smallest population increase between 2010 and 2019 and had the second-highest rate of unemployment in 2019. The rest of the top five a more random mix of okay-ish and low ratings, but Mississippi definitely ran away with the bottom spot.

Now let’s take a look at the top of the list. These are, according to the data and methodology used, the “most livable” states in the country.

  1. Massachusetts
  2. Colorado
  3. New Jersey
  4. Connecticut
  5. Hawaii

Well! What’s particularly interesting about the top of the list here is that many of the states don’t actually have a top rating in any of the metrics used to calculate their position. The top spot went to Massachusetts which is ranked 6th highest in life expectancy, 8th lowest in poverty, and 11th lowest in unemployment. It was held high on the list thanks to its rate of bachelor’s degree attainment, which sits at 45%, the highest in the country. The rest of the top five is a mixed bag, with only Hawaii (at number 5) ranking as the best in any metric. In this case, it was life expectancy, which is the longest of all the states.

If you want to see where your state ranks, head over to the full list and see just how livable your state really is.

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