America’s Best States to Live In

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20. Iowa
> 10-yr. population change: +5.3% (17th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.1% (7th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (12th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.7 years (16th longest)

Iowa has a relatively strong economy. The annual unemployment rate of just 3.1% is the seventh lowest in the nation and below the national unemployment rate of 4.4%. In addition, only 2.5% of families in Iowa make less than $10,000 a year, the sixth lowest share in the nation and below the national share of 3.8%. While the annual median household income of $58,570 a year is below the national figure of $60,336, the cost of living in Iowa is lower than in most other states. Good and services cost about 9.8% less in the state than they do on average nationwide.

The share of people who have health insurance in Iowa is also high, at 95.3%, the sixth highest share of all states and above the comparable national share of 91.3%.

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19. Wisconsin
> 10-yr. population change: +3.5% (11th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.3% (12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (19th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.8 years (14th longest)

Wisconsin has the highest excessive drinking rate in the country. Some 26.2% of state residents report drinking to excess. Excessive drinking can lead to long-term health problems such as liver disease. Excessive drinking can lead to long-term health problems such as liver disease. Still, Wisconsin’s health outcomes tend to be better than national outcomes. The state’s average life expectancy of 79.8 years is longer than the U.S. life expectancy of 79.1 years.

Though the state’s median household income of $59,305 is more than $1,000 lower than the U.S. median, it is still higher than most other states, ranking 22nd. Wisconsin also has a relatively low unemployment rate of just 3.3%.

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18. Maine
> 10-yr. population change: +1.4% (4th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 3.3% (12th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.1% (16th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.3 years (23rd longest)

Residents in Maine tend to have better access to medical care than most states. There are about 111 primary care providers for every 100,000 people in Maine, the second highest concentration of all states. The state also has the third highest concentration of mental health providers, with 441 providers per every 100,000 residents. Having regular checkups can potentially help lengthen one’s life. Life expectancy in Maine of 79.3 is in line with the national life expectancy of 79.1 years.

Maine also has a low crime rate. There are only 121 violent crimes per 100,000 state residents, the lowest violent crime rate of all states. The property crime rate in Maine is also low at 1,507 crimes for every 100,000 residents — the fourth lowest rate in the nation.

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17. Nebraska
> 10-yr. population change: +8.2% (24th largest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 2.9% (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.8% (13th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.6 years (17th longest)

Nebraska is one of just a handful of states with an unemployment rate below 3.0%. As a result, many Iowans are able to provide for their families and keep them out of poverty. The state’s poverty rate of 10.8% is below the nationwide rate of 13.4%.

Nebraska adults tend to report feeling healthier than residents of most other states. Residents report 3.2 mentally and physically unhealthy days in the past month, the fifth and seventh fewest days, respectively, when compared to all states. Nebraska also has one of the higher life expectancies in the nation at 79.6 years.

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16. New York
> 10-yr. population change: +2.9% (9th smallest increase)
> Annual unemployment: 4.7% (14th highest)
> Poverty rate: 14.1% (16th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (6th longest)

New Yorkers live some of the longest lives in the nation. The life expectancy of the average New Yorker is 80.4 years, about a year more than the 79.1 years the typical American lives. New York also has one of the higher median household incomes, at $64,894 a year, which exceeds the national figure by about $4,500.

However, the wealth is nowhere near evenly distributed in the state. New York has the highest ratio of high income to low income households. Those in the 80th percentile of income in the state earn about 5.7 times the income those in the 20th percentile earn. Nationwide, those in the 80th percentile of income make 5.0 times the income than those in the 20th percentile.