Best and Worst States to Live In

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1. Massachusetts
> 10-yr. population change: +4.7% (23rd lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.3% (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.0% (8th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (8th longest)

Massachusetts ranks as the best state to live in, in part due to its well-educated population. Among state residents age 25 and older, 44.5% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, the highest bachelor’s degree attainment rate of any state. Americans with a college education are generally qualified for a wider range of high-paying jobs, and in Massachusetts, the typical household has an income of nearly $80,000 a year, far more than the median household income nationwide of about $62,000.

Americans with higher incomes tend to have better access to health care and can afford a wider range of options related to diet and lifestyle, and partially as a result they often report better than average health outcomes. In Massachusetts, life expectancy at birth is 80.4 years, over a year longer than the life expectancy of 79.1 years nationwide.

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2. Colorado
> 10-yr. population change: +13.4% (7th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.3% (15th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.6% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.5 years (7th longest)

By several socioeconomic measures indicative of quality of life, Colorado ranks as the second best state to live in in the country. Colorado residents are more likely to live longer, healthier lives and less likely to face serious financial hardship than the typical American. Life expectancy at birth in the state is 80.5 years, compared to the 79.1-year life expectancy nationwide. Additionally, Colorado is one of only seven states where fewer than one in every 10 residents live below the poverty line.

Further evidence of the generally high quality of life in the state is its growing popularity as a place to live. In the last decade, Colorado’s population has grown by 13.4%, faster than all but six other states.

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3. New Jersey
> 10-yr. population change: +2.3% (12th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.1% (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.5% (5th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.5 years (6th longest)

Along with Massachusetts and Connecticut, New Jersey is one of three states in the Northeast to rank among the five best states to live in. Like those other states, New Jersey has a well-educated population, with a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 40.8%, well above the comparable national rate of 32.6%. New Jersey is also a relatively prosperous state, with a median annual household income of $81,740 — nearly $20,000 more than the national median.

Like most of the best states to live in, New Jersey is relatively safe. There were just 208 violent crimes for every 100,000 people in New Jersey in 2018, well below the national violent crime rate of 369 per 100,000.

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4. Hawaii
> 10-yr. population change: +9.7% (11th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.4% (the lowest)
> Poverty rate: 8.8% (2nd lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.2 years (the longest)

People living in Hawaii are less likely to face serious financial hardship than the vast majority of Americans. Just 8.8% of state residents live below the poverty line, the smallest share of any state other than New Hampshire, and well below the national poverty rate of 13.1%. The state’s relative prosperity is likely due in part to its strong job market. An average of just 2.4% of Hawaii’s labor force was out of work in 2018, the lowest unemployment rate among states and well below the 3.9% national rate.

Hawaii is also growing rapidly in terms of population. In the last decade, the number of people living in the state climbed by 9.7%, outpacing the 6.6% national population growth rate.

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5. Connecticut
> 10-yr. population change: +1.5% (10th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.1% (15th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (10th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.8 years (5th longest)

Along with Massachusetts, Connecticut is one of two states in the New England region to rank among the top five states to live. One of the wealthiest states in the country, Connecticut’s median annual household income of $76,348 is about $14,400 higher than national median. Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and indeed Connecticut has a relatively well-educated population. Some 39.6% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to just 32.6% of adults nationwide.

Connecticut residents also tend to be healthier than most Americans, as evidenced by the state’s high average life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth is 80.8 years, over a year and a half longer than the national life expectancy of 79.1 years.