Special Report

Best and Worst States to Live In

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6. Minnesota
> 10-yr. population change: +6.6% (23rd highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.9% (8th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.6% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.9 years (4th longest)

Minnesota is the only Midwestern state to rank among the 10 best places to live. Its high ranking is attributable in part to its well-educated population. Some 93.4% of adults in the state have completed high school, and 36.7% have earned a bachelor’s degree, each a higher share than the respective educational attainment rates nationwide of 88.3% and 32.6%.

Serious financial hardship is also relatively uncommon in Minnesota. The state is one of only seven where fewer than one in every 10 residents live below the poverty line. The state’s relative prosperity is due in part to a strong economy and job market. The state’s annual unemployment rate of just 2.9% is well below the 3.9% national rate.

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7. Maryland
> 10-yr. population change: +6.0% (25th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.9% (21st highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.0% (4th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.2 years (24th longest)

With a median household income of $83,242, Maryland is the wealthiest state in the country. The state also has the fourth lowest poverty rate. Just 9.0% of Maryland residents live below the poverty line, well below the U.S. poverty rate of 13.1%.

Incomes tend to rise with educational attainment, and Maryland has one of the best-educated populations of any state. Some 40.8% of adults 25 and older in Maryland have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 32.6% of adults nationwide.

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8. New Hampshire
> 10-yr. population change: +2.4% (14th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.5% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 7.6% (the lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years (19th longest)

New Hampshire residents are more likely to be healthy and financially secure than those living in the vast majority of other states. The state’s poverty rate of 7.6% is the lowest among states, and life expectancy at birth in New Hampshire is 79.5 years, nearly half a year longer than life expectancy across the U.S. as a whole.

Americans with a college education are more likely to lead healthy lives and earn higher incomes than those with less educational attainment. In New Hampshire, 36.8% of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 32.6% of adults nationwide.

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9. Washington
> 10-yr. population change: +13.1% (8th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 4.5% (9th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.3% (9th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.3 years (9th longest)

Along with Colorado and Hawaii, Washington is one of three states in the West to rank among the best places to live. One of the healthiest states in the country, Washington has a life expectancy at birth of 80.3 years, over a year longer than the national average. Better-educated Americans typically report healthier lifestyles and better health outcomes, and in Washington, the high average life expectancy may be partially attributable to the high educational attainment. Among state residents 25 and older, 36.7% have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 32.6% of adults nationwide.

Like most high-ranking states on this list, Washington had a rapidly-growing population. In the last decade, the state’s population grew by 13.1%, nearly double the 6.6% national growth rate.

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10. Virginia
> 10-yr. population change: +8.1% (17th highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.0% (11th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (12th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years (21st longest)

Virginia has one of the highest college degree attainment rates in the country. Of adults 25 and older living in the state, 39.3% have a bachelor’s degree or higher, well above the 32.6% national bachelor’s degree attainment rate. Adults with higher educational attainment are more likely to earn high salaries and less likely to be unemployed — and the high educational attainment may help explain the state’s low poverty rate. Just 10.7% of Virginians live below the poverty line, well below the 13.1% national poverty rate.

Like most of the best states to live in, Virginia is a relatively safe state. There were only 200 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 state residents in 2018, nearly the lowest rate of any state. Meanwhile, the national violent crime rate stands at 369 incidents per 100,000 people.

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