Special Report

America's Best States to Live In

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40. Indiana
> 10-yr. population change: +5.1% (16th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.5% (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.5% (20th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.7 years (11th shortest)

In Indiana, the share of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree is relatively low. Only 26.8% have a four-year college degree or higher, the 10th lowest share nationwide and below the comparable national share of 32.0%. Higher educational attainment often leads to higher-paying jobs. It is not surprising that in Indiana — where the educational attainment rate is below average — the annual median household income of $54,181 falls well below the national figure of $60,336.

Indiana adults also have generally poor health outcomes. About 32.0% of adults are obese, the 10th highest share among all states and well above the national obesity rate of 28.0%. Poor health behaviors and outcomes likely contribute to Indiana’s low life expectancy. An individual born today in Indiana is projected to live to about 77 years — the 11th shortest life expectancy among all states.

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39. Georgia
> 10-yr. population change: +9.3% (18th largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 4.7% (14th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.9% (11th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.4 years (10th shortest)

Georgia residents are more likely than the typical American to live in poverty. The state’s poverty rate of 14.9% exceeds the country’s 13.4% rate. Georgia also has a relatively high share of families living in extreme poverty, at 4.4%.

The average life expectancy in Georgia is shorter than the U.S. average by more than a full year. The state’s life expectancy is just 77.4 years, as compared to the national life expectancy of 79.1 years. The state’s low life expectancy may be in part the result of residents not receiving care when they need it, either because they cannot afford it, or because they lack health coverage. State residents may have a harder time affording medical treatment, as 13.4% do not have health insurance — the fourth highest rate among states.

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38. Nevada
> 10-yr. population change: +16.9% (4th largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 5.0% (6th highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.0% (24th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.1 years (15th shortest)

As of 2017, 5.0% of Nevada’s labor force was out of a job, the sixth highest unemployment rate of all states. Acquiring higher educational can improve the likelihood of securing a steady job that pays well. However, only about one in four Nevada adults have a bachelor’s degree, the sixth lowest share among states. The majority of Americans with health insurance are covered through their employer. In Nevada, 11.2% of residents do not have health insurance coverage, the eighth highest share among all states and well above the comparable U.S. share of 8.7%.

About 21.3% of Nevada households also have at least one of four problems related to housing: overcrowding, high housing costs, lack of kitchen, or lack of plumbing facilities. Despite all of these issues, Nevada is attracting new residents at a fast pace. The state’s population grew by nearly 17.0% in the past decade, the fourth largest population growth rate of all states.

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37. Ohio
> 10-yr. population change: +1.7% (5th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 5.0% (6th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.0% (17th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.9 years (14th shortest)

Ohio has the seventh largest population of all states, with roughly 11.7 million people. The median annual household income of $54,021 is below the national figure of $60,336. However, the cost of living in Ohio may offset the below average incomes. Goods and services in the state cost 10.7% less than they do on average nationwide.

Ohio’s unemployment has not improved in 2017, a year when nationwide unemployment declined. The state’s 2017 unemployment rate of 2017 remained at 5%, the same as in 2016, and remained above the national jobless rate of 4.4%. The stagnant labor force has likely not attracted newcomers.The state’s population growth rate of only 1.7% in the past decade was seventh slowest of any state.

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36. Missouri
> 10-yr. population change: +4.0% (13th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.8% (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.4% (21st highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.7 years (12th shortest)

Missouri has one of the shorter state life expectancies. An average Missourian born today can expect to live 77.7 years, more than a full year less than the U.S. life expectancy. The state ranks as one of the worst in a number of health factors, including preventable hospitalization, a measure which is often used as a proxy for the quality of medical care in an area.

Missouri ranks as the 15th worst state in which to live, but in one of the three measures used in the index, the Show Me State actually compares favorably to other states that rank as among the worst places to live. The state’s 13.4% poverty rate is in line with the national rate. Missouri’s population grew 4% between 2007 and 2017, half the national growth rate. Slow population growth can signify that a state is a less desirable place to live than other states.