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(Ken Wiedemann/Getty Images)

Best States Rankings

Measuring outcomes for citizens
using more than 75 metrics


RELATED CONTENT

A thick layer of fog rolls over the Mississippi River toward Dubuque, Iowa, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017. (Dave Kettering/Telegraph Herald via AP)

Iowa Is No. 1


[RELATED: Iowa Is No. 1]

Some states shine in health care. Some soar in education. Some excel in both – or in much more. The Best States ranking of U.S. states draws on thousands of data points to measure how well states are performing for their citizens. In addition to health care and education, the metrics take into account a state’s economy, the opportunity and quality of life it offers people, its roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure, its public safety and the fiscal stability of state government.

More weight was accorded to some state measures than others, based on a survey of what matters most to people. Health care and education were weighted most heavily. Then came state economies, the opportunity states offer their citizens and infrastructure. Crime & corrections followed closely in weighting, followed by measures of government fiscal stability and people's quality of life. This explains why Iowa, ranking No. 1 in infrastructure and No. 3 in health care, occupies the overall No. 1 spot in the Best States rankings. And it explains why Minnesota, ranking No. 2 in quality of life and No. 3 in opportunity for its citizens, ranks No. 2 overall in the Best States rankings.

Best States Overall Ranking

Download Full Rankings: 2018

Download Full Rankings: 2018

Overall State Health Care Education Economy Opportunity Infrastructure Crime & Corrections Fiscal Stability Quality of Life
#1 Iowa IA 3 5 17 4 1 15 21 9
#2 Minnesota MN 7 13 20 3 6 11 24 2
#3 Utah UT 10 3 2 35 8 14 1 22
#4 North Dakota ND 14 10 19 17 2 23 2 1
#5 New Hampshire NH 13 4 11 1 37 2 26 4
#6 Washington WA 2 6 3 27 4 39 27 21
#7 Nebraska NE 19 9 21 13 9 19 11 14
#8 Massachusetts MA 5 1 9 14 45 5 40 25
#9 Vermont VT 6 8 31 6 35 7 16 26
#10 Colorado CO 9 20 1 28 14 29 31 10
#11 Wisconsin WI 17 18 27 8 26 22 19 3
#12 Idaho ID 18 30 7 42 10 6 7 20
#13 Maryland MD 16 11 24 2 25 26 23 31
#14 South Dakota SD 21 17 28 24 7 40 4 5
#15 Florida FL 34 7 5 36 11 31 3 33
#16 Oregon OR 20 33 6 32 3 20 30 18
#17 Hawaii HI 1 29 23 18 27 17 35 36
#18 Delaware DE 25 32 10 7 18 46 15 24
#19 New Jersey NJ 12 2 41 10 28 3 49 49
#20 Virginia VA 29 12 30 9 39 4 14 41
#21 Wyoming WY 33 15 47 15 36 12 9 11
#22 Maine ME 22 19 37 26 43 1 29 12
#23 North Carolina NC 37 16 18 40 24 21 6 34
#24 Connecticut CT 4 14 43 29 41 8 41 38
#25 New York NY 15 23 35 43 19 10 28 37
#26 Tennessee TN 43 28 13 31 15 41 5 28
#27 Montana MT 26 22 26 37 34 36 12 13
#28 Rhode Island RI 8 27 29 34 48 13 33 23
#29 Kansas KS 30 21 42 12 16 37 39 16
#30 Missouri MO 39 25 33 21 20 45 10 15
#31 Georgia GA 42 31 14 33 17 35 13 32
#32 California CA 11 26 4 46 38 28 43 50
#33 Indiana IN 40 35 25 11 30 30 8 48
#34 Nevada NV 35 44 12 19 5 44 38 43
#35 Illinois IL 27 24 39 22 13 24 50 47
#36 Texas TX 38 37 8 47 21 27 17 46
#37 Michigan MI 32 36 22 20 40 32 32 29
#38 Pennsylvania PA 23 38 34 16 29 25 42 44
#39 Arizona AZ 24 43 16 45 12 38 34 39
#40 Ohio OH 36 41 32 25 23 18 37 40
#41 Kentucky KY 45 34 45 30 22 9 46 27
#42 South Carolina SC 41 48 15 39 33 42 18 30
#43 Oklahoma OK 48 39 36 38 31 34 22 17
#44 Alaska AK 28 40 50 5 42 50 47 19
#45 Arkansas AR 49 42 40 41 46 47 20 7
#46 Alabama AL 46 47 38 48 32 43 25 35
#47 West Virginia WV 44 45 49 23 50 33 36 45
#48 New Mexico NM 31 50 46 44 47 49 44 8
#49 Mississippi MS 50 46 48 49 49 16 45 6
#50 Louisiana LA 47 49 44 50 44 48 48 42
BOSTON - AUGUST 29: Pedestrians walk through the intersection of Arch and Franklin Streets in Boston on Aug. 29, 2016. Boston Transportation Department is experimenting with widening sidewalks to create a plaza at the intersection and will temporarily install planters and fencing that will be filled with tables and chairs during the morning rush. (Photo by Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Browse Photos of the 50 States

EXPAND GALLERY


At a time when the federal government is attempting to hand more responsibility for spending and policymaking to the states, these rankings offer the first comprehensive view, state by state, of how some states already are performing best. This highly interactive platform enables users to explore thousands of important benchmarks and easily draw state-to-state comparisons. Build a chart. Share it. And ultimately learn what all the states can learn from one another. The site also delivers a freshly updated menu of reporting and analysis on state trends and developments, making it a must-read source for anyone interested in what’s happening nationally.

The data driving these rankings were drawn from extensive and reliable governmental and private sources as well as proprietary data including a national survey of what matters most to citizens around the country. Among the eight main categories measured in the Best States rankings, more than five dozen subcategories of metrics are taken into account.

What follows is a deep dive into all 50 states. Let the Data Explorer lead your way.

What Goes Into the Overall Score?

  • Health Care 16%

    The highest-weighted ranking looks at health care access and affordability, health care quality and health outcomes for citizens.

    See Health Care Rankings »
  • Education 16%

    The education ranking measures how well states educate students in preschool, K-12 and different levels of higher education.

    See Education Rankings »
  • Economy 14%

    The economy ranking tracks unemployment rates, GDP growth, migration into the state, patents, new businesses and more.

    See Economy Rankings »
  • Opportunity 13%

    This ranking measures poverty, housing affordability and equality for women, minorities and people with disabilities.

    See Opportunity Rankings »
  • Infrastructure 12%

    The infrastructure rankings gauge the quality of states' bridges, public transportation, power grids, broadband and more.

    See Infrastructure Rankings »
  • Crime & Corrections 11%

    Crime & Corrections ranks states based on public safety and the quality and fairness of their prison systems, including racial bias.

    See Crime & Corrections Rankings »
  • Fiscal Stability 10%

    This ranking tracks states' government credit ratings, liquidity, pension fund liability and budget balancing.

    See Fiscal Stability Rankings »
  • Quality of Life 8%

    This new ranking tracks states' air quality, pollution, voter participation, social support and more.

    See Quality of Life Rankings »
Weights may not add to 100 because of rounding. Read Full Methodology
Check Out the Data Explorer

Filter through more than 100,000 charts from Best States to see the numbers behind how your state ranked in each of the eight categories.

Go to the Data Explorer »