For the third year in a row, Utah was named the “No. 1 state in America” by U.S. News & World Report’s Best States rankings for 2024. That ranking is based on 70 metrics across eight categories — with Utah leading in so many indicators that it rose to the top once more, summarized in their report, “Why Utah Is the Best State in America – Again.”

That comprehensive review, however, only looked at a subset of data points available, with other meaningful variables examined elsewhere. On top of factors identified in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, the Deseret News scoured other research to gather the best evidence below, demonstrating other ways the Beehive State is uniquely excelling across the nation.

The amount of heartening data was surprising even to us — begging the question of why so many things are going well in this particular state. Having a state economy and fiscal stability that leads the nation would be enough to elicit curiosity, along with stand-out upward mobility and economic equality. But add to that repeated evidence of unusual physical health and emotional well-being among residents, as well as the nation’s lowest drug and alcohol abuse — to say nothing of its unusual charitable giving and volunteerism, noticeable educational excellence, and social cohesion highly regarded across the country ... and one is forced to begin asking deeper questions.

Common underlying elements

Clearly, none of these variables operate independently in a vacuum — representing different elements of a synergistic social ecosystem built on certain fundamentals. From our analysis of the state’s strengths, there are two variables that appear more tightly correlated to Utah’s success than any other. In WalletHub’s analysis of charitable giving, it notes, “The state has a high population of religiously devout individuals, and these spiritual beliefs provide the foundation for Utah’s philanthropy.”

Faith also plays a traceable role in virtually every variable on the list — from strong prioritization of children, family, education and economic self-reliance, to unique levels of health, happiness, and freedom from drugs and alcohol.

Marriage and family life is equally consequential. One of the top predictors of economic performance across U.S. states is the share of married parents, according to experts. “The percentage of parents who are married in a given state,” two researchers note, “is typically a stronger predictor of the state’s economic mobility, child poverty and median family income than are the education level, racial makeup and age composition of its population.”

This also helps explain Utah’s economic mobility, since poor children in the Salt Lake area are far more likely than other regions in the country to be raised in a two-parent family and surrounded by peers from two-parent families.

Sociologists Norval Glenn and Charles Weaver have concluded the “estimated contribution of marital happiness” to overall happiness “is far greater than the estimated contribution of (other) kinds of satisfaction, including satisfaction with work.”

Here then is a look at 12 patterns that continue to show up in national datasets illustrating Utah’s comparative strengths as a state:

1. Educational excellence

According to U.S. News & World Report rankings, Utah is second overall in its analysis of state educational metrics, after Florida and right before Massachusetts. The magazine calls this “perhaps Utah’s most important rise,” since the state jumped from No. 5 to No. 2 over the past year.

In addition to a 12% increase in preschool enrollment rate, the state reported in 2022 an average eight grade National Assessment of Educational Progress math score of 282 out of 300 — above the national average of 274 (continuing a pattern of relatively higher scores over the past two decades).

Opens in new window
Average scores for Utah compared with the nation. Courtesy: National Center for Education Statistics * Significantly different (p < .05) from 2022. Significance tests were performed using unrounded numbers.

The new U.S. News & World Report also emphasized the fact that Utah students have an 88.2% high school graduation rate, compared with 85.9% nationally — along with a 13% recent increase in its two-year-college graduation rate to 33.6%.

Utah college students also average $10,794 debt at graduation, which is best in the nation and significantly less than the national average of $14,086 (in line with data suggesting that Latter-day Saints have measurably fewer student loans).

In addition to lower college tuition and fees in the state, Ben Blau, head of the Department of Economics and Finance at Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, told U.S. News & World Report that Utah taxpayers are “extremely generous” in funding public higher education in the state.

2. Robust infrastructure

According to the same U.S. News & World Report analysis of key infrastructure metrics, including commute time, road and bridge quality, and internet access, Utah rose one spot to third overall — after North Dakota and Oregon.

The publication predicts the state could rise more in the near future with further infrastructure improvements in preparation to potentially host the Winter Olympics in 2034 — including expanding passenger rail in Salt Lake City, which Gov. Spencer Cox has called a priority (currently, the state is 14th in the nation for citizens who use public transportation).

Utah is also ninth best in the nation for commute time, with an average of 21.6 minutes, compared with a national average of 26.4 minutes. The estimated 17.1% of Utah roads in poor condition is slightly less than the national average of 18.3% — with its bridge quality ranking sixth nationally.

Access to gigabit internet has grown to nearly 60% in Utah, with BroadbandNow ranking the state 13th among states in 2024 for internet coverage, speed and availability.

Motorists drive in the spaghetti bowl in Salt Lake City on Thursday, June 13, 2024. Utah is leading the nation with it’s economic strength, charitable giving, religiosity and limited alcohol consumption. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

3. Economic strength

According to the U.S. News & World Report analysis of state economic variables, Utah is third overall in its economy, after Florida and Idaho. That is, in part, based on the state’s 3.7% job growth, which is sixth best in the nation and higher than the 2.7% national average.

A separate analysis by WalletHub, released earlier this month, compares states on 28 key indicators of economic performance and strength, including GDP growth, unemployment rate, startup activity and the share of jobs in high-tech industries. Across these factors, they rank Utah as the state with the second-best overall economy.

In explaining their decision, the analysts note that “at nearly $84,000, the median annual household income in the state is the second-highest in the country after adjusting for the cost of living.” In addition, “the average income in the state also grew 6.8% between 2022 and 2023.”

“The labor market in Utah is also very healthy,” WalletHub also notes. “Utah has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, at 2.8%, along with the second-most growth in the civilian labor force between 2022 and 2023.”

U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics confirm a rate of nearly 70% labor force participation in Utah — also the highest in the country. In terms of overall job satisfaction, Provo, Salt Lake City and Ogden all rate highly (No. 1, No. 9 and No. 11, respectively) in Glassdoor’s analysis of “cities with the most satisfied workers.”

WalletHub also underscored the state’s “great potential for the future of business,” based on the fifth-highest growth rate in the number of businesses and the sixth-highest share of jobs in high-tech industries. Other 2024 reviews have called Utah the No. 1 state to start a business, with three of the five “best cities to start a business” all in Utah: Cedar City, St. George and Washington. (A separate analysis declared Utah the No. 1 state for franchising opportunities.)

This squares with yet another independent analysis of 15 state policy variables by the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Center for State Fiscal Reform, which concluded Utah has the nation’s third best current economic performance.

4. Financial independence and fiscal stability

That same ALEC analysis of 15 state policy variables also labeled Utah as having the best “economic outlook” in the nation — with WalletHub ranking Utah No. 1 in “Economic Health Rank.”

U.S. News & World Report similarly concluded that Utah’s financial stability was sixth in the nation, based on a fifth rated long-term fiscal stability, a short-term fiscal stability rated 15th in the nation, and the fact the state has an AAA Government Credit Rating — which is the highest value possible, denoting the “lowest expectation of default risk” and “assigned only in cases of exceptionally strong capacity for payment of financial commitments,” which is “highly unlikely to be adversely affected by foreseeable events.”

U.S. News & World Report also points to an overall Utah liquidity of 120.6 days of general fund expenditures in total balances, compared with an 112.9 average across states overall. As a measure of budget balancing, the state also has a 1.202 ratio of total state revenue/total expenses, which exceeds the 1.074 national average.

These same qualities led WalletHub to appraise Utah as the most independent state in the nation based on Utah consumer finances, the government, the job market, international trade and personal vices. That includes the fact that Utah has the second highest number of households with rainy-day and emergency funds — and corresponds with a separate WalletHub analysis across 17 metrics finding the state second highest in “financial knowledge and education,” and the seventh highest in “financial literacy” overall.

That appraisal is also based on Utah being the third least federally dependent state (after New Jersey and Washington), and the second lowest state in terms of households receiving public assistance and SNAP/food stamps (after Wyoming).

Opens in new window
Courtesy WalletHub, “Most & Least Independent States,” Adam McCann, Jun 28, 2023

5. Lower poverty and higher upward mobility, economic equality

According to multiple analyses, Utah has the lowest childhood poverty rate in the nation, the second lowest for women, and the second or third lowest poverty rate for families overall (depending on the study).

The state is also the No. 1-ranked state for social mobility, according to a 2023 analysis led by Justin T. Callais at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As U.S. News & World Report put it, “Many Utahns have opportunities to thrive in different aspects of life due to the state’s varied strengths.”

Opens in new window
Courtesy: Archbridge Institute

This data aligns with Harvard economist Raj Chetty and colleagues’ earlier 2018 finding that Utah has one of the highest rates of upward economic mobility of any state in America (defined as the odds that a child will earn more than his or her parents did at the same age).

In their 2014 study “Where Is the Land of Opportunity?: The Geography of Intergenerational Mobility in the United States,” this research team identified Salt Lake City and San Jose, California, as having the highest rates of absolute mobility in the nation.

To be more specific, this means the likelihood of moving from the poorest income threshold to the richest was 10.8% in Salt Lake City compared with 4% elsewhere in the country. Places like Salt Lake City and San Jose, Chetty and colleagues concluded, “have rates of mobility comparable to countries with the highest rates of relative mobility, such as Denmark.”

These scholars also found that areas with greater mobility tended to have “less segregation, less income inequality, better schools, greater social capital and more stable families.”

A separate 2015 analysis by the American Enterprise Institute likewise identified Utah as the No. 1 state in terms of economic mobility for poor children — which again highlights individuals’ ability to “climb the ladder” of success and improve their lives.

As Natalie Gochnour, associate dean at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business, explained it, “children born in low-income families in the Salt Lake metro area are more likely to achieve the American dream than anywhere else in the country.”

More recent confirmation comes from a 2023 analysis published by the Census Bureau examining income inequality across the nation through a statistical measure known as the Gini index, which combines various financial measures into a single statistic summarizing the dispersion of income across a given community.

Based on that data from the U.S. Census Bureau, they concluded Utah had the lowest inequality score of any state in the nation.

Deseret News contributor Stephen Cranney points out that “looking at the data over a five-year period, Utah pulls ahead of the other leading states and has the lowest inequality score” — while highlighting the fact that “the lower the percentage of church members in the county, the higher likelihood of economic inequality — a finding that is highly statistically significant.”

Gochnour also points to the strikingly low Gini coefficients at the state and sub-state level, noting that in the most recent data, “Salt Lake City scored the lowest income inequality among the 51 metropolitan areas with more than one million in population, and West Jordan City scored the lowest income inequality among the 267 cities over 100,000 in population.”

Worried about income inequality? Move to Utah

This atmosphere of overall fairness arguably corresponds with how inmates are treated in the state. U.S. News & World Report appraises the state favorably as ninth overall in “crime and corrections,” based on the state being No. 7 in corrections outcomes, with an incarceration rate of 176 per 100,000 residents, compared with a national average of 311 — and a juvenile incarceration rate of 23 per 100,000 compared with 39 nationally.

Hikers watch the sunset from Mount Olympus in Holladay on Thursday, June 13, 2024. Utah is leading the nation with it’s economic strength, charitable giving, religiosity and limited alcohol consumption. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

6. Strong physical health and health care

A December 2023 analysis looked at how many people within each state exercise, how many gyms there are compared to the population, and how much people pay for gym memberships each month. They concluded Utah had more residents who exercise outside their regular jobs than anywhere else (83%) — grading the state as the fourth most physically active state once other variables were taken into account.

A 2021 analysis of health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention similarly concluded Utah was the seventh “fittest state in the nation,” with over 80% of the Utah population participating in some form of physical activity per month (the highest scoring state for this statistic).

Consistently, Utah ranks 13th lowest for obesity and is among the group of states with the lowest incidence of cancer (and falling further). The state was also rated fourth in a 2022 Forbes analysis of state populations with the “healthiest hearts.”

Utah also ties North Dakota for the No. 1 ranking with the state with the highest percentage of residents with health insurance coverage at 78.4%. U.S. News & World Report ranks health care in Utah 14th in the nation, partly due to the state having measurably less preventable hospital admissions, at 1,605 per 100,000 Medicare patients, compared with the national average of 2,765.

Utah is currently listed as ninth longest life expectancy among states. One organization did a deeper analysis of federal data related to longevity — going beyond life expectancy at birth to examine eight other lifestyle factors, including exercise, healthy diet, healthy weight, sleep quality, stress levels, social isolation, proximity to parks and amount that people spend on outdoor recreation. Based on this comprehensive investigation, they placed Utah as fifth on the list of the “Top 10 best states in the U.S. for a long, healthy life.”

Jaxon Mercer, Rachel Starr and Alonso Prieto plant a tree as they join with Salt Lake City Department of Public Lands and other community volunteers for a combined Earth Day and Arbor Day celebration to plant more than 250 trees at the Regional Athletic Complex in Rose Park on Monday, April 22, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

7. Generous charitable giving and volunteerism

A 2023 WalletHub report analyzed 19 key metrics of “Volunteering & Service” and “Charitable Giving,” including overall volunteer rate, donated hours per capita, the share of population donating time or money, and percentage of income donated — as well as public charities and food banks per capita, percentage of sheltered homeless, and the share of population collecting food and clothing, fundraising or selling items to raise money.

Based on this in-depth analysis, they labeled Utah the most charitable state — with the state having the most volunteer hours per capita at 39.42 hours and highest volunteer rate of 40.7%, 2.6 times higher than the lowest state.

Research using the Current Population Survey also indicates that Utah has the highest rate of religious volunteerism, while ranking 15th in terms of secular volunteerism. Overall, WalletHub notes that “more than half of the Beehive State’s population donates their time to a good cause.”

Utah also ties Arkansas for the highest state in percentage of income donated to charity, with residents donating 3.89% of their income to help those in need.

This is not a new phenomenon, with the state leading in volunteering and charitable giving year after year, reflected in many past reports like this Gallup poll from 2014, “Utahans Most Likely to Donate Money and Time.”

8. Vibrant religious adherence and overall faith

According to a 2024 analysis of the latest U.S. census data by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, Utah has the largest share of religious adherents across the United States. The report found 76.1% of Utah residents adhering to a religious affiliation, with the next highest states being Alabama at 63.6% and Louisiana at 63.3%.

Religious adherents as a share of population by state, 2020

(These findings contrast with other surveys asking people how highly religious they are — since the census data focuses more specifically on behavioral indicators of whether people attended a religious congregation during the time of the study.)

According to the census, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the highest number of adherents, at 2,126,216 in 2020 — with a growth rate of 8.4% between 2010 and 2020.

Across all faiths, Utah also has the eighth most congregations per 100,000 population of any state, which has steadily grown by 8.3% from 2010 to 2020. There are currently at least 19 religions with 10 or more congregations in the state, with notable growth rates for Traditional Temples Hindus, Muslims and the National Baptist Convention.

The Jarvis family from Stansbury Park takes a selfie outside the Conference Center prior to the 194th Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Saturday, April 6, 2024. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

9. Uniquely prioritizing marriage, children and family

In January, University of Virginia professor Brad Wilcox wrote in the Deseret News that “no state in America has more families headed by married parents than the Beehive State.” He points out that compared to a national average of 45% of adults married and 75% of children living in married families in 2021, 55% of adults in Utah (ages 18-55) were married and 82% of its children were living in married-couple families.

This same professor acknowledged last year that marriage rates in the state were significantly down compared to 2012, when 82 out of every 1,000 never-married males over age 15 and 95 out of every 1,000 females in Utah would tie the knot (in 2021, these numbers had dropped to 63 males and 77 females getting married per 1,000).

Despite the decrease, these numbers still lead the nation. Utah was also the state with the lowest separation and divorce rate, a fact that WalletHub has repeatedly highlighted over the years.

Opens in new window
Courtesy, WalletHub, "Best & Worst States to Raise a Family" Adam McCann, Jan 8, 2024

Until 2016, Utah also had the highest fertility rate in the nation, with three states surpassing it of late, South Dakota, Nebraska and North Dakota. Utah currently has the fourth highest birth rate in the nation.

Consistently, the state also remains the youngest state in the nation — which contributes to its illustrious ranking as the official No. 1 best state for trick-or-treating (based on a legit algorithm drawing on each state’s pedestrian safety, child population, walkability score, average weather the night of Halloween and Google search data for “Halloween,” “Trick-or-Treating,” and “Halloween candy” to measure demand for the holiday).

Another WalletHub analysis concluded Utah was the 15th best state to raise a family based on various measures of family friendliness, including economic and safety variables, access to day care, child health, and kid-friendly neighborhood amenities. That report noted Utah has the fourth lowest child care costs in the nation.

“We believe in families, and we think having kids is a great thing and really important,” Gov. Spencer Cox has said — while acknowledging the rising price of houses, and drawing attention to what he calls “the most aggressive starter home package in the country.”

According to the 2020 U.S. census, Utah leads the nation since 2010 as No. 1 state for population growth at 15.05% — followed by Idaho and Texas. This continues its pace as on one of the fastest-growing states since 2000, according to The Atlantic.

Utah was rated the No. 1 state for new home construction in January 2023, and No. 40 for population density (suggesting more room to build and grow). Provo, Utah, home to Brigham Young University, leads the nation in cities where young adults make up the largest percentage of homeowners, according to research from MoneyGeek — with people under 25 making up roughly 39% of homeowners in the city and young adults owning more homes than older cohorts, according to the report.

10. Less alcoholism, drug use and related consequences

WalletHub released last month an in-depth analysis of which states have the biggest drug problems — assessing 20 different measures across three overall categories: 1) Drug Use & Addiction, 2) Law Enforcement and 3) Drug Health Issues & Rehab. Crunching all the numbers, Utah was the second lowest state in terms of overall drug use and percentage of teenage drug users.

According to a 2022 Forbes analysis, Utah also has the lowest percentage of people who smoke daily and the highest percentage of people who have never smoked.

The state also has the lowest percentage of adults who are binge-drinkers and the lowest alcohol consumption per capita by far, with the state’s estimated 17.7 gallons per resident per year about half the national average of 34 gallons — 8 gallons below the next state, Maryland, and 42 less than New Hampshire. (Idaho comes in third, at 26.5 gallons per person.)

Opens in new window
Courtesy WalletHub, “Most & Least Independent States,” Adam McCann, Jun 28, 2023

That translates into Utah being the state with the lowest percentage of fatal accidents caused by drunk driving (22%), according to 2022 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data.

This also explains why Utah is the fifth safest state for driving, according to a 2024 Forbes analysis across key metrics from the NHTSA, including number of fatal car accidents and people killed in car accidents per capita, as well as percent of fatalities from speeding and impaired driving.

Are Utah drivers really as bad as people say?

11. Overall happiness and well-being

Compared to investigations more narrowly focused on a small set of variables, at least three different analyses of happiness across the 50 states have examined an extensive list of happiness-related variables. In 2009, Gallup assessed emotional health, life evaluation (of how much someone is thriving and expects to in the future), healthy behaviors, physical health and work environments across the nation, ranking Utah No. 1 in overall well-being.

More recently in 2023, WalletHub compared all 50 states in 30 relevant metrics across three key dimensions: 1) Emotional & Physical Well-Being, 2) Work Environment and 3) Community & Environment. Based on this more comprehensive examination, Utah ranks as the No. 1 happiest state in the U.S., followed by Hawaii and Maryland.

In another 2023 analysis, Soliant Health listed Utah as No. 10 on its list of Best States for Mental Health Report that likewise examined a wider range of factors that impact mental health at all ages. In addition to the frequency of “bad mental health days” reported by the population, and access to mental health providers and suicide rates, the report assessed unemployment and violent crime rates, how many teens and young adults are disconnected (neither working nor in school), access to exercise opportunities and air pollution.

Although altitude has come under critical scrutiny in discussions of suicidality, the state’s natural beauty no doubt contributes to positive well-being as well. “The Most Beautiful States in the U.S., Ranked,” placed Utah fourth in the list of 50 states — topped only by Hawaii, California and Alaska.

“To rank this high with exactly zero miles of coastline, you’ve gotta have some superlative sights,” the authors remark, “and Utah brings it like no other landlocked state in the nation.”

12. Distinctive social capital and community cooperation

In 2018, The Joint Economic Committee of the United States Congress released a Social Capital Index — a measure of how closely tied we are to our communities and to one another.

Noting with alarm that “nearly 60 percent of Americans reside in the bottom two-fifths of states for social capital,” they identified Utah as having the highest social capital score, followed by Minnesota and Wisconsin.

“It seems that wherever Mormons, Scandinavians, and Puritans once settled you will likely find healthy community,” wrote one commentator about the report. Likewise remarking on disproportionate levels of community solidarity and trust in Utah, Washington Post columnist Megan McArdle joked that Utah is “a bit like Sweden might be if it were run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

This is reflected in the distinctive openness the state has to refugees, especially compared with other red states — welcoming an estimated 272,134 immigrants currently in the state, now representing 8.5% of the population — most hailing from Mexico, India, Venezuela, Brazil and Canada.

According to September 2023 data from the U.S. State Department’s Refugee Processing Center, Utah has also resettled 8,500 refugees from 53 countries since 2012, including approximately 2,000 from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 1,400 from Somalia, 1,200 from Iraq, 1,100 from Myanmar (formerly Burma), 900 from Afghanistan and 700 from Ukraine.

Fatima Musa picks out a backpack for fourth grade during Refugee Back to School Night at Granite Park Junior High in South Salt Lake on Monday, Aug. 7, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Aden Batar came to Utah as a refugee in the ‘90s and now directs migration and refugee services at Catholic Community Services of Utah. He told Utah Business in 2023, “The people in Utah work together to offer newcomers everything we have here.”

“Government funding isn’t enough to cover all of these services, so we’re always looking to work with the business community, foundations, individuals, and religious organizations in the state to help bridge that gap,” Batar adds. “And every time we’ve reached out, there’s never a shortage of volunteers. To know that when we appeal to the community that they’ll respond, that’s confidence that not every state has.”

Utahns also have a well-known reputation for civic cooperation — reflected in a growing track record of coming together across significant disagreements to pursue innovative legislative accomplishments. This includes the “Utah compromise” on religious liberty and gay rights and the Utah Compact on immigration.

Meeting in the middle on religious and LGBTQ rights

More recently, Phil Dean, chief economist at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, told the Deseret News that he views the National Hockey League announcement downtown as another example of cooperation. “Looking at people from a bunch of different groups throughout the state that were represented, that kind of shows this ability that we have, as a state, to come together still.”

“We may disagree, but if possible, we’ll try to work toward a win-win solution.”

Students at Utah universities have plenty of chances to practice this, with more political balance than elsewhere. Brigham Young University stands out as the most politically balanced of all, according to some measures.

BYU — the most politically balanced university in America?

Leadership in the state, at both government and religious levels, has emphasized the importance of this same cooperation. Gov. Cox announced in 2023 the theme of his service as chairman of the National Governors Association would be “disagreeing better.”

“If we really want to change the world,” he remarked, “we have to start by changing our own hearts” — encouraging citizens to spend “less time with polarizing headlines” and “more time with people who think differently than you because it is ‘harder to hate up close.’”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints likewise gave an earlier address entitled, “Peacemakers Needed,” where he charged members of the church all over the world to replace “animosity with understanding” and “cease insisting that it is your way or no way.”


“Show that there is a peaceful, respectful way to resolve complex issues and an enlightened way to work out disagreements.”

Golfers play Old Mill in Holladay on Thursday, June 13, 2024. Utah is leading the nation with it’s economic strength, charitable giving, religiosity and limited alcohol consumption. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Interdependent variables

It would be a mistake, once again, to appraise these variables reviewed above as independent and stand-alone — representing instead a complex and interdependent social-civic ecosystem with one virtue building on and reinforcing the other. For instance, comprehensive analyses of happiness always take into account economic and family measures, and higher levels of well-being have long correlated with citizen willingness to make charitable donations.

Gochnour likewise points to Census Bureau data suggesting that lower income inequality correlates with higher levels of education, and suggests that extensive social capital may contribute to greater income equality in the state.

None of this is to pretend Utah doesn’t have plenty to improve upon. But even there, we see hopeful evidence of continuing improvement in the state. U.S. News & World Report notes that “Utah’s journey to the top spot in the rankings for the second year in a row coincided with the state moving up year over year in several categories, including crime and corrections (+6), education (+3) and opportunity (+2).” On the economic side, the state also saw an uptick in tax burden and unemployment rate.

Join the Conversation
Looking for comments?
Find comments in their new home! Click the buttons at the top or within the article to view them — or use the button below for quick access.