Forty percent of the weighting given to measurements of opportunity address the question of economic opportunity. This involves the percentage of households living below the federal poverty line – with Mississippi ranking lowest in this area. The metrics include food insecurity, a count of children and adults alike who don’t get adequate nutrition – Mississippi ranking lowest, North Dakota best in this measure. It takes into account the median household income in it gauges the disparity of income between the lowest-income households and the highest – with Alaska showing the smallest disparity between rich and poor. These four comprehensive metrics are indicators of more than just economic opportunity in a given state – they intersect with employment, stability and health and affect the quality of life of a state's population.
New Hampshire is the No. 1 state for economic opportunity, followed by Alaska, Maryland, Hawaii and North Dakota. The overall Best State, Iowa, ranked 15th in this subcategory. The bottom-15 states for economic opportunity are all in the Southeast and Southwest, including Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and No. 50 Mississippi.