(The Center Square) – Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin can take pride in being in the top 10 for U.S. News’ Best States rankings. Michigan, however, was in the bottom 10.
The report considers 71 metrics across eight categories to measure how states serve their residents. The categories are health care, education, economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections, and natural environment. Health care and education received the highest weights, based on three surveys of adults from all 50 states. Survey results were weighted to represent the country’s demographics.
Opportunity metrics were cost of living, housing affordability, food insecure households, poverty rate, income equality, median household income, education gap by race, unemployment gap by disability status, labor force participation gap by gender, unemployment gap by race, income gap by gender and income gap by race.
Minnesota placed fifth in the nation, the report found. It has the best infrastructure, the seventh-best natural environment and the ninth-best opportunity. The North Star State has the best internet access and the second-best transportation. Transportation measures included structurally deficient bridges, average commute time, public transit use and roads in poor condition. Nationally, 19% of roads are in poor condition, whereas in Minnesota, 9.3% are. While the state’s rankings were poorer in the other categories, they were still above average.
Despite having the 31st best economy, Iowa placed seventh-best, with the third-best opportunity and the eighth-best fiscal stability. Iowa’s the sixth-best state in terms of affordability. Its cost-of-living index is 89.6, compared with the rest of the country. Its poverty rate is 11.1%, while the nation’s is 12.8%. It placed ninth for long-term fiscal stability, which captured government credit rating and pension fund liability, and 16th for short-term fiscal stability, which included liquidity and budget balancing.
Wisconsin placed eighth. It has the sixth-best education, the seventh-best fiscal stability and the eighth-best opportunity. Its infrastructure and natural environment rankings were comparatively low, at 27th and 29th, respectively.
Only Michigan’s health care and opportunity ranked above 25th in the nation, at 20th and 21st, respectively. Its infrastructure is 43rd, as its energy is 40th, internet access is 35th and transportation is 40th. Michigan’s crime and corrections, economy, education, fiscal stability and natural environment rankings hovered around 36th.
Utah, which topped the charts for economy and fiscal stability, was the best state overall, despite having the 46th natural environment. Natural environment ranked air and water quality and pollution factors. Washington was second, and Idaho was third. Washington has the fourth best natural environment and fiscal stability. Idaho has the second-best economy and fiscal stability.
Louisiana was the worst state in the country, while Alaska was 49th and Mississippi was 48th. Louisiana placed 50th for economy and crime and corrections and 49th for infrastructure and natural environment. Alaska’s poorest ranking was education. Mississippi placed 49th in health care and economy.
To learn more about the report’s methodology, click here.