America’s Best States to Live In

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25. Maine
> 10-yr. population change: +0.7% (3rd smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.9% (tied — 12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.5% (21st lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.1 years (25th longest)

Falling dead center in 24/7 Wall St.’s ranking of state liveability is Maine, with some measures of livability rating better than nationwide measures, while others rating worse. Residents tend to have good access to medical care as the state has a high concentration of both physicians and mental health providers. However, health outcomes tend to be average at best. The premature mortality rate in the state is only slightly below the national figure, while residents report feeling physically or mentally unhealthy more days in a given month than the average American.

On the other hand, Maine’s crime rate of 124 incidents for every 100,000 residents is the lowest of all states.

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24. Iowa
> 10-yr. population change: +5.1% (14th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.7% (tied — 9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (tied — 18th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years (21st longest)

Iowa’s economy is fairing better than most states’. An average of only 3.7% of the state’s labor force were unemployed in 2016, well below the U.S. unemployment rate of 4.9% last year. The strong jobs numbers help reduce the share of state residents struggling financially. Only 11.8% of Iowa’s population lives in poverty, far less than the share of Americans living in poverty of 14.0%.

Poverty can greatly limit families’ and individuals’ ability to lead healthy lives, and Iowa’s low poverty rate may partially explain some of the positive health outcomes among its population. Life expectancy at birth in Iowa is 79.3 years, slightly longer than the U.S. life expectancy of 78.9 years.

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23. Delaware
> 10-yr. population change: +11.6% (13th largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 4.4% (tied — 20st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.7% (16th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.8 years (24th shortest)

Generally, a growing population is indicative of favorable conditions in a state. Delaware’s 11.6% population growth over the last 10 years outpaced the national population growth rate of 7.9%. A rapidly growing population is often indicative of high levels of prosperity, robust employment growth, or other factors that reflect a high quality of life. Delaware, however, tends to rank neither particularly strong nor unusually weak in many measures that tend to correlate with population growth. For example, Delaware’s unemployment rate of 4.4% is just slightly lower than the national rate of 4.9%.

Delaware is not middle of the road in every measure, however. Its median household income of $61,757 is over $4,100 higher than the national figure. The state’s issues with crime balance out its high income for this rank. The state’s violent crime rate of 509 incidents per 100,000 residents is ninth highest of all states.

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22. Kansas
> 10-yr. population change: +5.2% (15th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 4.2% (18th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.1% (20th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.6 years (19th shortest)

Some 32.8% of adults in Kansas have at least a bachelor’s degree, a higher share than the 31.3% of American adults and the third highest share of any Midwest state. Better-educated populations are often more resistant to financial hardship, and the Kansas population is no exception. Only 12.1% of the state’s population lives on poverty level incomes, versus the 14.0% share of Americans nationwide. Strong employment figures are a boon for state residents. Only 4.2% of workers in Kansas were out of a job in 2016. In comparison, the annual U.S. unemployment rate was 4.9%.

Higher incomes and low unemployment and poverty often correlate with better health outcomes, and all of these factors can affect how likely residents are to make healthy choices and to have access to quality care. In Kansas, however, the population appears to be slightly less healthy than the typical American. The state’s premature age-adjusted mortality and preventable hospitalization rates are each is slightly higher than that of the nation.

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21. Wisconsin
> 10-yr. population change: +4.0% (11th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 4.1% (tied — 16th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (tied — 18th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.6 years (15th longest)

Approximately 1 in every 4 adults in Wisconsin drink excessively, the second highest alcohol abuse rate of any state. However, drinking seems to be the main unhealthy habit, as adults in the state are less likely to smoke and more likely to get regular physical exercise than the typical American. Likely partly as a result, life expectancy in Wisconsin is 79.6 years at birth, higher than the U.S. average life expectancy of 78.9 years. State residents also benefit from lower than typical crime rates, poverty, and unemployment.

Despite a range of favorable socioeconomic measures, Wisconsin does not appear be attracting many new residents. Over the past decade, the state’s population expanded by only 4.0%, slower than the U.S. population growth of 7.9% over that time.