> Population: 3,986,639 (+0.7% in last year)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.5 years (8th lowest)
> Median household income: $55,826 (8th lowest)
> Median home value: $168,500 (4th lowest)
> Median housing costs as pct. of income: 15.4% (7th lowest)
> August 2022 unemployment: 3.4% (23rd lowest)
Oklahoma ranks as the sixth worst state to live in nationwide and the fifth worst in the South. Its low ranking is due in part to poor air quality, based on the high concentration of PM 2.5. Long-term exposure to this type of inhalable particulate matter can reduce lung function and increase the risk of mortality from lung cancer and heart disease. Oklahoma has an average of 40.2 micrograms of PM 2.5 per cubic meter of air each day – the sixth highest concentration of all states.
Oklahoma also does not appear to invest in many public amenities that can improve overall quality of life. For example, only about 65% of the population have easy access to places for physical activity like parks and recreation centers, well below the 80% share of Americans nationwide. Additionally, Oklahoma has one of the worst funded public school systems in the country. Per pupil spending across Oklahoma school districts totals just $9,144 a year, nearly the least of any state.
> Population: 6,975,218 (+0.9% in last year)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.3 years (6th lowest)
> Median household income: $59,695 (10th lowest)
> Median home value: $235,200 (22nd lowest)
> Median housing costs as pct. of income: 15.8% (13th lowest)
> August 2022 unemployment: 3.5% (24th highest)
Quality of life in many parts of Tennessee is undermined by high crime rates. According to the FBI, there were 673 violent crimes – such as murder, aggravated assault, and robbery – for every 100,000 people in the state in 2020, the third highest violent crime rate among all states. Additionally, Tennessee’s property crime rate, which includes offenses such as burglary and motor vehicle theft, ranks as the 10th highest among states.
While Tennessee residents benefit from a lower-than-average cost of living, incomes in the state are also below average. With a median household income of $59,695, Tennessee is one of only 10 states where most households earn less than $60,000 a year.
> Population: 5,039,877 (+0.3% in last year)
> Life expectancy at birth: 74.8 years (3rd lowest)
> Median household income: $53,913 (5th lowest)
> Median home value: $172,800 (5th lowest)
> Median housing costs as pct. of income: 14.8% (3rd lowest)
> August 2022 unemployment: 2.9% (13th lowest)
Property values can be indicative of a given area’s desirability – and with a median home value of just $172,800, Alabama is one of only 13 states where most homes are worth less than $200,000. Financial hardship hampers quality of life for many residents in the state. The state’s poverty rate of 16.1% is well above the national poverty rate of 12.8%. Financial insecurity is likely worse for women in the state than it is for men, as Alabama also has one of the worst gender pay gaps in the country, with women getting paid 75 cents to every dollar men earn.
Across broad populations, average life expectancy is a key outcome indicator that can reveal deficiencies in access to health care, nutrition, and other services that support a healthy lifestyle. In Alabama, average life expectancy at birth is just 74.8 years, the third lowest of any state. Indeed, the state has a higher than average uninsured rate and residents are far less likely than most Americans to have easy access to places for physical exercise, like parks and recreation centers.
> Population: 4,509,394 (+0.1% in last year)
> Life expectancy at birth: 75.1 years (4th lowest)
> Median household income: $55,573 (7th lowest)
> Median home value: $173,300 (6th lowest)
> Median housing costs as pct. of income: 15.6% (10th lowest)
> August 2022 unemployment: 3.7% (21st highest)
Kentucky ranks among the 10 worst states to live in, partially due to poor air quality. Kentucky has one of the higher concentrations among states of microscopic particulate matter, long-term exposure to which can reduce lung function and increase the risk of mortality from lung cancer and heart disease.
While Kentucky residents benefit from a lower-than-average cost of living, incomes in the state are among the lowest in the country. The typical Kentucky household earns just $55,573 a year, the seven lowest median among states. Additionally, Kentucky’s poverty rate of 16.5% is the fifth highest of any state.
> Population: 11,780,017 (-0.2% in last year)
> Life expectancy at birth: 76.5 years (11th lowest)
> Median household income: $62,262 (13th lowest)
> Median home value: $180,200 (8th lowest)
> Median housing costs as pct. of income: 15.8% (13th lowest)
> August 2022 unemployment: 4.3% (8th highest)
Ohio ranks as the worst state to live in in the Midwest and the 10th worst nationwide. Though the overall cost of living in the state is about 8% lower than the national average, incomes are also low, and some Ohio residents are facing severe financial hardships. The typical household in the state earns $62,262 a year, about $7,500 below the national median. Additionally, Ohio’s 13.4% poverty rate is the 15th highest among states.
The state’s low incomes are partially attributable to a lack of employment opportunities. As of August 2022, 4.3% of the state’s labor force were unemployed, more than in the vast majority of states and well above the 3.8% national jobless rate.
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