Best and Worst States to Live In

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21. Kansas
> 10-yr. population change: +3.3% (16th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.4% (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.0% (21st lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.6 years (23rd shortest)

Kansas is the highest ranking state with a below average life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth in Kansas is 78.6 years, compared to the national life expectancy of 79.1 years.

In other measures, Kansas also has some advantages over the nation as a whole. For example, just 12.0% of state residents live below the poverty line, compared to the 13.1% U.S. poverty rate. Similarly, Kansas’s bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 33.8% is slightly higher than the 32.6% national rate.

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22. Iowa
> 10-yr. population change: +4.9% (24th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 2.5% (3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (18th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 79.5 years (20th longest)

Just 29% of adults in Iowa have a bachelor’s degree, a smaller share than the share of 32.6% of adults nationwide. Incomes typically rise with educational attainment, and in Iowa, the typical household earns $59,955 a year — slightly less than the national median household income of $61,937. Still, Iowa residents are less likely to face serious financial hardship as the state’s 11.2% poverty rate is slightly lower than the 13.1% national rate.

Iowans are also more likely than most Americans to lead long, healthy lives. Life expectancy at birth in the state is 79.5 years, slightly higher than the national average of 79.1 years.

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23. Maine
> 10-yr. population change: +1.5% (9th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.4% (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.6% (19th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.6 years (22nd shortest)

Maine, which ranks towards the middle of all 50 states on this list, is the lowest ranked state in New England. It is the only state in the region with a lower bachelor’s degree attainment rate than the U.S. as a whole. Just 31.5% adults in Maine have completed four years of college, compared to 32.6% of American adults nationwide. Better-educated adults are more likely to report healthy lifestyles and better health outcomes than average. In Maine, life expectancy at birth is 78.6 years, about six months fewer than the national average life expectancy and the lowest of any New England state.

Still, Maine does not lag behind all of its regional neighbors in every measure used to gauge quality of life. Maine’s 11.6% poverty rate is lower than both the rate of 12.9% in Rhode Island and the rate of 13.1% nationwide.

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24. Alaska
> 10-yr. population change: +5.6% (25th lowest)
> 2018 unemployment: 6.6% (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.9% (13th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 78.5 years (19th shortest)

Americans with a four-year college degree are more likely to report higher incomes and be financially secure than those with lower educational attainment. In Alaska, 30.2% of adults have a bachelor’s degree, a smaller share than the share of 32.6% of adults nationwide. Despite the lower educational attainment, Alaska’s 10.9% poverty rate is below the 13.1% national average.

Joblessness is more of a problem in Alaska than in any other state. In 2018, an average of 6.6% of the labor force was out of work, the highest unemployment rate among states and well above the 3.9% national unemployment rate.

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25. Florida
> 10-yr. population change: +14.9% (3rd highest)
> 2018 unemployment: 3.6% (22nd lowest)
> Poverty rate: 13.6% (17th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.0 years (10th longest)

Floridians are less likely to have a college education and more likely to face serious financial hardship than the typical American. Just 30.4% of adults in the state have a bachelor’s degree or higher, and 13.6% of state residents live below the poverty line — compared to the national shares of 32.6% and 13.1%, respectively.

Still, the state ranks better than most in terms of life expectancy. Life expectancy at birth is 80 years in Florida, nearly a full-year longer than the national average. Florida is also one of the fastest growing states in the country in terms of population. In the last decade, the number of people living in the Sunshine State climbed by 14.9%, more than double the 6.6% national population growth rate.

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