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To produce its new report on the best states to live in, the personal-finance website WalletHub compared the 50 states using 52 key factors such as affordability, housing costs, income growth, business activity, education, and more. The metrics, each weighted differently, were compiled to get the overall score and used to rank each state.
California At the top of the list was California. "While it is not among the most affordable, the average annual household income here is also the second-highest nationally, at more than $ 82,000," says WalletHub analyst Jill González. "As a direct consequence, the proportion of the population living in poverty is only 10%, among the lowest, and the debt/income ratio is just above 33%, the third smallest in the country."
According to González, California also ranks high in terms of building permit growth and has a low rate of food insecurity. Other factors that contributed to California ranking include the quality of the public school system, including the 90.6% high school graduation rate, the fourth-highest nationally. In terms of health, the state ranks highly in life expectancy and has the third-lowest proportion of obese adults, at just 25%.
Also in favor: "When looking at the quality of life, we find that the state is very bike-friendly, with many kilometers of trails for biking and walking, and has accessible public transportation," says González. “There are also many restaurants and gyms per capita, as well as accessibility to the beach. Lastly, California is very safe, with a low crime rate, a low number of traffic-related deaths, and the highest number of police employees per capita. "
Massachusetts, New York, and New Mexico
Second on the list was Massachusetts, followed by New York. New Mexico came last. "New Mexico has the fifth-lowest median annual household income: less than $ 50,000, high unemployment, and the economic confidence index is very low," says González. “As a result, more than 19% of the state's residents live in poverty, the debt-to-earnings ratio exceeds 63%, population and income growth are very low, and there is a large wealth gap. In addition, there are few job opportunities and a lot of food insecurity. "
Other things that dragged New Mexico down the rankings: The state lacks the quality of the public school system, leading to the lowest high school graduation rate in the country - 75.1% and only about 85%. of the population have at least a high school diploma. In terms of health, the state has a high rate of premature death, a large percentage of adults in poor health, and a large proportion of births with low birth weight, more than 9%.