Best and Worst States to Live In

Print Email

Source: traveler1116 / Getty Images

41. South Carolina
> 10-yr. population change: +11.5% (9th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.4% (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.3% (9th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 77.0 years (9th shortest)

South Carolina is one of the poorest states in the country. The state’s poverty rate of 15.3% is considerably higher than the national poverty rate of 13.1%. Lower-income Americans and those facing serious financial hardship typically report worse health outcomes, and in South Carolina, life expectancy at birth is just 77 years, about two years lower than the national average.

Crime is often more heavily concentrated in lower-income areas, and South Carolina is a relatively dangerous state. There were 488 violent crimes reported in the state for every 100,000 people in 2018, compared to the national violent crime rate of 369 per 100,000.

See all stories featuring: South Carolina

Source: DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

42. Tennessee
> 10-yr. population change: +7.5% (18th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.5% (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.3% (9th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 76.1 years (8th shortest)

Tennesee has the third highest violent crime rate of any state, with 624 reported incidents of rape, robbery, muder, and aggravated assault per 100,000 people, compared to a national rate of 369 violent crimes per 100,000 people. Memphis, in particular, has one of the highest violent crime rates in the country.

The state is also one of the least healthy in the country. Life expectancy at birth in Tennessee is 76.1 years, three years lower than the national average. The state ranks among the 10 worst for obesity, smoking, physical activity, and infant birth weight — all among the biggest indicators of a population’s overall health.

See all stories featuring: Tennessee

43. New Mexico
> 10-yr. population change: +4.3% (21st lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.9% (3rd highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.5% (2nd highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.2 years (16th shortest)

New Mexico is one of the most dangerous states in the country. There were 857 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 people in the state in 2018, more than double the national rate of 369 per 100,000. Crime tends to be concentrated in poorer areas, and in New Mexico, 19.5% of the population lives below the poverty line, the second highest poverty rate among states and well above the 13.1% national poverty rate.

High crime and widespread financial hardship may make New Mexico less attractive to potential new residents and families. In the last decade, the number of people living in the state climbed by just 4.3%, at a time the U.S. population climbed by 6.6%.

See all stories featuring: New Mexico

44. Oklahoma
> 10-yr. population change: +6.9% (22nd highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.4% (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.6% (8th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.9 years (6th shortest)

In Oklahoma, 14.2% of residents lack health insurance, the second highest uninsured rate among states and well above the national rate of 8.9%. Those who are uninsured, and particularly those who live in poverty, potentially face worse health outcomes. Oklahoma, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the country, has a life expectancy at birth of just 75.9 years — the sixth lowest among states and 3.2 years below the national average.

See all stories featuring: Oklahoma

Source: SeanPavonePhoto / Getty Images

45. Alabama
> 10-yr. population change: +3.8% (19th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.9% (21st highest)
> Poverty rate: 16.8% (7th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.4 years (4th shortest)

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and in Alabama, only 25.5% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 32.6% of adults nationwide. The low educational attainment helps explain why most households in Alabama earn less than $50,000 a year, even as the typical American household earns nearly $62,000 a year.

Lower-income Americans can afford fewer healthy options related to diet and lifestyle, and adults with lower educational attainment are more likely to have unhealthy habits. Life expectancy at birth in Alabama, at 75.4 years, is about four years below the national average.

See all stories featuring: Alabama