America’s Best and Worst States to Live In

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50. Mississippi
> 10-yr. population growth:
6.0% (13th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 7.8% (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 21.5% (the highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.0 years (the lowest)

Based on a range of socioeconomic factors, Mississippi is the worst state in which to live. As in several other states with relatively more challenging living conditions, Mississippi residents are the least wealthy in the nation. A typical household earns $39,680 each year, and 21.5% of people live in poverty, the lowest annual median household income and the highest poverty rate in the nation. Poverty frequently contributes to poorer health outcomes, which in turn often lead to a higher incidence of premature death. The life expectancy at birth in Mississippi of 75 years is also the lowest in the country.

A lack of education often limits access to good jobs and economic prosperity. In Mississippi, 21.1% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, far lower than the 30.1% of adults nationwide with similar education. The state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, at 7.8%.

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49. West Virginia
> 10-yr. population growth:
4.4% (8th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 6.5% (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.3% (7th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.4 years (3rd lowest)

A lack of education often limits access to good jobs and economic prosperity, and residents of states on the lower end of the liveability ranking tend to have relatively low college attainment rates. In West Virginia, fewer than one in five adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, the lowest college attainment rate in the nation. West Virginia’s September unemployment rate of 7.3% was the highest in the nation. Also, job growth from 2012 to 2014 was actually negative, the only state where this was the case. The state’s poverty rate of 18.3% is the seventh highest of all states. Not only does financial stress often lower quality of life, but it can also contribute to a shorter life. In West Virginia, the life expectancy at birth of 75.4 years is lower than in all but two other states. In states with relatively poor living conditions, demand for housing is often relatively low, which tends to drive down home values. A typical home in West Virginia is worth $103,900, well below the national median home value of $181,200.

48. Louisiana
> 10-yr. population growth:
5.9% (11th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 6.4% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (3rd highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.7 years (4th lowest)

For many potential homeowners, nothing is more important than a safe neighborhood. Louisiana’s violent crime rate is the highest in the country at 514.7 incidents per 100,000 residents, much higher than the national rate of 356.5 incidents for every 100,000 residents. Many states with similarly poorer living conditions have high crime rates. In Louisiana, nearly one in five residents lives in poverty, the third highest poverty rate in the country. Also, education attainment levels are relatively low in the state. A lack of education often limits access to good jobs and economic prosperity, and residents of states on the lower end of the liveability ranking tend to have relatively low college attainment rates. In Louisiana, 22.9% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, significantly lower than the 30.1% of adults nationwide with similar education.In states with relatively poor living conditions, demand for housing is often relatively low, which tends to drive down home values. A typical home in Louisiana is worth $143,600, well below the national median home value of $181,200.

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47. Alabama
> 10-yr. population growth:
9.2% (22nd lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 6.8% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.3% (4th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.4 years (3rd lowest)

As in other states with relatively difficult living conditions, Alabama’s poverty rate of 19.3% is one of the highest in the country. A typical household earns $42,830 each year, the fourth lowest annual median household income in the nation. In the same way an educated population is often the basis of economic prosperity, a lack of education often limits access to good jobs and lowers economic prosperity. In Alabama, 23.5% of adults have at least a bachelor’s degree, well below the 30.1% of adults nationwide with similar education. In states with relatively poor living conditions, demand for housing is also often relatively low, which tends to drive down home values. A typical home in Alabama is worth $125,600, the seventh lowest median home value in the country.

46. Arkansas
> 10-yr. population growth:
9.8% (25th lowest)
> 2014 unemployment rate: 6.1% (23rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 18.9% (6th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 76.0 years (7th lowest)

The often low demand for housing in states with relatively poor living conditions frequently drives down home values. A typical home in Arkansas is worth $112,500, lower than in all but two other states and well below the national median home value of $181,200. For many potential homeowners, nothing is more important than a safe neighborhood. Arkansas has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country at 480.1 incidents per 100,000 residents, much higher than the national rate of 356.5 incidents for every 100,000 residents. While the economy may be weaker in Arkansas than in many other states, the cost of living is also very low. Goods and services cost 12.5% less than they do across the nation on average, the lowest estimated cost of living of all states except for Mississippi.