The 10 States With the Worst Quality of Life

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4. West Virginia
> Employment rate: 60.5% (the lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $25,199 (8th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 3.9 per 100,000 (22nd lowest)
> Voter turnout: 47.8% (the lowest)

West Virginia received nearly the worst score in the U.S. for the health of its residents. The mortality rate was 10.5 deaths per 1,000 people, a higher rate than in all but two other state. Additionally, nearly 19% of the state’s population lived in poverty last year, well above a national poverty rate of 15.8%, and one of the highest rates nationwide. West Virginians were also the least likely to engage in politics, as less than 48% of eligible residents chose to vote last year, less than in any other state. While West Virginia’s homicide rate of 3.9 murders per 100,000 state residents was better than the homicide rate of many other states, it was still in the worst 20% of OECD regions.

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3. Arkansas
> Employment rate: 65.1% (12th lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $24,150 (3rd lowest)
> Homicide rate: 5.3 per 100,000 (15th highest)
> Voter turnout: 53.3% (4th lowest)

Like a majority of the states with the worst quality of life, Arkansas residents were relatively poor compared to other Americans. Per capita household disposable income was less than $25,000 last year, nearly the lowest in the nation. Also, nearly one in five state residents lived below the poverty line in 2013, more than in all but three other states. Perhaps due in part to financial burdens, many residents did not participate in politics. Just 53.3% of eligible state residents chose to vote last year, nearly the lowest voter turnout rate nationwide. Arkansas voters may turn out in greater force this election season, as the state’s popular long-time Democratic governor is set to step down due to term limits.

2. Alabama
> Employment rate: 62.7% (5th lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $25,584 (10th lowest)
> Homicide rate: 6.4 per 100,000 (8th highest)
> Voter turnout: 61.9% (tied-22nd lowest)

Alabama was one of just a few states to adopt additional requirements for voter registration earlier this year, and these requirements’ impact on voter turnout remains to be seen. With nearly 62% of eligible residents voting last year, Alabama’s voter turnout was considerably better than several other states on this list. In terms of access to services, the state was rated nearly the worst, as just 56% of the population had access to broadband Internet last year, less than in all but two other states. Also, like many of the states with the worst quality of life, Alabama residents struggled with poverty. Nearly 19% of people lived in poverty in 2013, versus a national poverty rate of 15.8%.

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1. Mississippi
> Employment rate: 61.6% (2nd lowest)
> Household disposable income per capita: $23,957 (2nd lowest)
> Homicide rate: 7.3 per 100,000 (2nd highest)
> Voter turnout: 74.5% (the highest)

Mississippi had the worst quality of life in the nation. With the exception of civic engagement — nearly three-quarters of eligible residents voted during the last general election, by far the highest rate nationwide — the state fared very poorly in nearly every OECD measure. Less than 82% of Mississippi’s workforce had completed at least high school as of 2013, lower than in every state except for Texas. Low educational attainment rates likely make it more difficult for unemployed residents to find a job. Nearly 9.5% of workers in the state were unemployed last year, among the highest rates in the country. Residents also struggled with poverty as 24% of Mississippians lived in poverty in 2013, the highest rate nationwide. Similarly, crime was a problem as there were 7.3 murders per 100,000 residents, the second-highest homicide rate in the country.

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