America’s 10 Best States to Work, Learn and Live

Amy Wilks is an editor, content manager, and professional writer who creates and manages online content for small businesses across the nation. When she is not attached to her computer she can be found in front of an easel, adding chapters to her new book, or spending quality time with her husband and seven children. She takes pride in providing encouragement, support and inspiration to the people in her community and has dedicated her life to making a difference in the lives of others.

U.S News & World Report has just released the official 2018 Best States Rankings, revealing to Americans which states outperform the rest when it comes to serving their citizens. Using thousands of data points and more than 75 different metrics including healthcare, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, public safety, the fiscal stability of state government and more, the recent assessment helps to settle the debate about the best states to work, live and learn.

And the Winner Is…..

Iowa is the #1 best place to live in the United States. According to the report, the Hawkeye State ranked No. 1 in infrastructure, No. 3 in Healthcare, No. 4 in opportunity, and No. 5 in education. One of only four states to rank in the top 25 in all categories, Iowa is quickly becoming an enticing relocation destination for young professionals, millennials and seasoned workers who are interested in getting a foothold on their futures.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement to U.S. News & World Report that “Our Best States ranking from U.S. News is a humbling tribute to our people who have proven time and again that in Iowa if you’re willing to work hard, you can accomplish anything.”

Iowa isn’t the only state whose hard work and determination paid off with high rankings. States like Minnesota, which ranked No. 2 overall, won points for coming in second in overall quality of life and third in opportunity for residents, and the third runner-up, Utah, took first place in fiscal stability, achieved the second highest rank in the economy category, and slid in at third in education.

How the Best States Ranking Is Determined

Extensive data from reliable private and governmental sources were taken into account when determining the best states for 2018. Formed in partnership with McKinsey & Company, the rankings gave more weight to the categories that matter most to people according to a recent survey that included the preferences of more than 30,000 people. Education and healthcare held the most weight, followed by state economies, opportunities for residents, and infrastructure. Other categories that weighed heavily in determining each state’s ranking were public safety, government fiscal stability, and quality of life. Here’s how the top eight categories measure up.

Healthcare- 16%

The most heavily-weighted category was healthcare, which includes sub-categories such as healthcare access, affordability, outcomes for residents, and overall quality. Although it didn’t make the top 10 list overall, Hawaii ranked No. 1 in the healthcare category.

Education- 16%

Also weighted at sixteen percent, education for students in preschool, K-12, and various levels of higher education were considered. Massachusetts topped the list in providing the best education for residents.

Economy- 14%

Especially important for job seekers, entrepreneurs, and businesses of all shapes and sizes who are interested in financial stability, factors like unemployment rates, new business developments, patents, migration into the state, GDP growth and more were used to determine each state’s ranking in the economy category. Coming in at No. 10 overall, Colorado ranked first for best economy.

Opportunity- 13%

The affordability of housing, poverty levels, and equality for minorities, disabled people and women were taken into account to evaluate the opportunity in each state. While New Hampshire ranked No. 5 overall in the best states report, the state took first place for the opportunity provided to residents.

Infrastructure- 12%

Infrastructure reform is a hot topic in the United States in 2018, so it’s not surprising that public transportation, power grids, broadband internet access, the quality of roads and bridges and more held substantial weight when ranking the best states in the U.S. Also not surprising, Iowa ranked No. 1 in the infrastructure category.

Public Safety (Crime & Corrections)- 11%

For this category, states were ranked on their prison systems, crime rates, and the safety of their residents. Although Maine seemed to fall behind in many other categories, the state ranked No. 1 in Crime & Corrections.

Fiscal Stability- 10%

Each state’s government credit ratings, liquidity, budget status and liability for pension funds were taken into account when developing the rankings for fiscal stability. Of the 50 states, Utah held the highest ranking for fiscal stability.

Quality of Life- 8%

Pollution, overall air quality, social support and voter participation all played a part in determining each state’s ranking with regard to quality of life. North Dakota, which was fourth in the nation overall, ranked No. 1 in quality of life for residents.

Top 10 States Overall

The following states performed the best overall in the 2018 Best States Ranking report.

  1. Iowa
  2. Minnesota
  3. Utah
  4. North Dakota
  5. New Hampshire
  6. Washington
  7. Nebraska
  8. Massachusetts
  9. Vermont
  10. Colorado


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