The 10 States With the Best Quality of Life
5. North Dakota
> Employment rate: 81.8% (the highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $31,844 (12th highest)
> Homicide rate: 2.99 per 100,000 people (18th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 63.9% (19th highest)
Large economic windfalls, like the recent oil boom in North Dakota, do not necessarily improve a state’s well-being. A strong economy, of course, still has many benefits. North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate nationwide, at just 3.3%. And 9.0% of the state’s workforce was employed in the agriculture and mining industries, more than all but one other state. The energy boom has also led to exceptional growth rates. North Dakota’s economic output has grown faster than that of any other state for several years. In addition to benefiting from an economic boom, North Dakota residents are relatively well educated. More than 91% of the state’s labor force had completed at least secondary school last year, among the highest rates in the country.
> Employment rate: 78.1% (5th highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $30,164 (20th highest)
> Homicide rate: 1.38 per 100,000 people (2nd lowest)
> Voter turnout: 69.4% (tied, 6th highest)
The OECD rated Iowa better than all but a few states for its jobs climate and safety. Just 5.2% of the workforce was unemployed last year, and the homicide rate — 1.4 per 100,000 — was lower than every state except New Hampshire. Iowa residents also had the benefit of a productive renewable energy sector, with greater production of renewable energy than all but two other states as of 2012. The majority of renewable energy output came from 476 trillion BTUs of biodiesel produced that year, which was more than any other state.
> Employment rate: 79.0% (3rd highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $30,102 (21st highest)
> Homicide rate: 1.39 per 100,000 people (3rd lowest)
> Voter turnout: 63.3% (22nd highest)
Vermont is among the nation’s leaders in several well-being measures. State residents are exceptionally well-educated. Nearly 92% of Vermont’s workforce had completed at least secondary school last year, nearly the highest rate nationwide. Vermont was one of a handful of states to receive a close to perfect score for housing. With more than three rooms per person, homes tend to be more spacious than those in any other state. Additionally, just 7.2% of residents lacked health care last year, less than half the rate for all Americans, and lower than all but one other state. Based on a recent survey by Gallup, Vermonters are also the most likely Americans to exercise regularly and consume fresh produce daily, which further contributes to the population’s good health.
> Employment rate: 77.3% (6th highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $32,256 (9th highest)
> Homicide rate: 1.68 per 100,000 people (4th lowest)
> Voter turnout: 73.2% (3rd highest)
Minnesota is one of the top states in the nation by a range of well-being metrics. Notably, the state was tied for second best with Vermont for education, as nearly 92% of the labor force had at least a high school diploma. Minnesota was also a top state for health, with a mortality rate of 7.5 per 1,000 residents and a life expectancy of over 81 years, both among the best nationwide. Per capita household disposable income was also quite high at $32,257, ninth best nationwide. Census Bureau figures also indicate Minnesota compares favorably with other states in ensuring residents are living well. The state’s poverty rate of 11.2% was among the lowest nationwide in 2013.
1. New Hampshire
> Employment rate: 77.0% (7th highest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $34,208 (7th highest)
> Homicide rate: 1.11 per 100,000 people (the lowest)
> Voter turnout: 69.4% (tied, 6th highest)
New Hampshire scored better than any other state for quality of life. No state had a lower homicide rate than New Hampshire, where there was just barely a single murder per 100,000 residents. Additionally, New Hampshire was also the top-ranked state for accessibility of services, with 79% of households reporting they had access to broadband, the highest in the United States. Further, New Hampshire ranked among the best states in most other measures considered by the OECD. The Granite State also had the nation’s lowest poverty rate in 2013, according to the Census Bureau, at just 8.7% of all residents.