Special Report

All 50 States Ranked by Livability

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1. Massachusetts
> Population change; 2010-2019: +5.1% (23rd largest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 2.9% (11th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.4% (8th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.5 years (6th longest)

Based on educational attainment, life expectancy, and the relatively lack of widespread economic hardship, Massachusetts ranks as the best state to live in in the country. The best educated state in the country, Massachusetts has a bachelor’s degree attainment rate of 45.0% — well above the comparable rate of 33.1% nationwide.

Incomes typically rise with educational attainment, and in Massachusetts, most households earn over $85,000 a year — or about $20,000 more than what the annual income the typical U.S. household earns. Additionally, Massachusetts is one of only 11 states where fewer than one in every 10 residents live below the poverty line.

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2. Colorado
> Population change; 2010-2019: +14.1% (3rd largest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 2.8% (9th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.5 years (7th longest)

Colorado is one of the fastest growing states in the country, with its population increasing by more than 700,000 people from 2010 to 2019, up to nearly 5.8 million. The state is among the healthiest and most economically prosperous in the country, ranking in the top 10 in many important socioeconomic categories.

Colorado’s median household income of $77,127 is the ninth highest of all states and over $11,000 higher than the overall U.S. median. The state also has the seventh lowest poverty rate, at 9.3% — 3 percentage points lower than the U.S. poverty rate. Colorado is one of 10 states with a life expectancy at birth of 80 years or more.

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3. New Jersey
> Population change; 2010-2019: +0.9% (5th smallest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 3.6% (20th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.2% (5th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (8th longest)

Three of the top five best states to live in are in the Northeastern United States — and New Jersey is one of them. Like other high-ranking states on this list, New Jersey’s population is relatively healthy and financially secure. Life expectancy at birth in the state stands at about 80.4 years, over one year longer than the national average. Additionally, only 9.2% of Garden State residents live below the poverty line, over 3 percentage points below the 12.3% U.S. poverty rate.

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4. Connecticut
> Population change; 2010-2019: -0.3% (3rd largest decrease)
> 2019 unemployment: 3.7% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.0% (12th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 80.9 years (5th longest)

Connecticut ranks as the fourth best state to live in, largely because of its well-educated and relatively healthy population. Nearly 40% of state residents aged 25 and up have a bachelor’s degree, compared to only about one-third of Americans nationwide in the same age group. The state population is also one of the healthiest overall as life expectancy at birth among residents is 80.9 years, nearly two years longer than the national average.

States that rank highly on this list typically report stronger population growth than those on the other end of the spectrum. Connecticut is a notable exception, however, as it is one of only four states nationwide that is home to fewer people today than in 2010.

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5. Hawaii
> Population change; 2010-2019: +3.8% (22nd smallest increase)
> 2019 unemployment: 2.7% (6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (7th lowest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.3 years (the longest)

Based on average life expectancy at birth, Hawaii has the healthiest population of any state. Hawaiians born today are expected to live an average of 82.3 years. For context, life expectancy nationwide is just 79.1 years.

Hawaii’s economy, before the COVID-19 downturn, was also among the strongest in the country. Average unemployment in 2019 stood at just 2.7%, and with a thriving job market, only 9.3% of the state population lives below the poverty line. Nationwide, the annual unemployment rate stood at 3.7% in 2019, and 12.3% of the U.S. population lives on poverty-level income.