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This state was named best in the nation in new report. Where did Arizona fall?




U.S. News and World Reports released its Best States 2024 ranking on Tuesday, which evaluates quality of life in the 50 states.

Utah topped the list for a second consecutive year, ranking top 20 in seven of the eight categories, and top 15 in six categories. However, it underperformed in the natural environment category, where it ranked 46th, likely due to the state’s lack of reliable water sources.

The analysis uses thousands of data points to evaluate each state based on eight main categories including health care, education, economy and infrastructure. The report also includes an overall ranking of the best states.

Some categories were assigned more weight than others, based on a survey of what matters most to people. Health care and education were weighted most heavily, with both assigned nearly 16% of the overall score, for a total of nearly 32% of the score in just those two categories.

Economy, infrastructure, opportunity and fiscal stability came later, with nearly 50% of the overall score distributed among those four categories. The crime and corrections and natural environment categories came last, with about 18% of the weight in the final rank assigned to those two categories together.

Here are the best and worst states and how Arizona ranked across the study categories in 2024.

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The 10 best states

These states ranked as the top 10 in the nation, according to U.S. News.

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


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The 10 worst states

These states ranked as the bottom 10 in the nation, according to U.S. News.

  1. Lousiana
  2. New Mexico
  3. Mississippi
  4. Arkansas
  5. West Virginia
  6. Alaska
  7. Alabama
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Michigan
  10. South Carolina
  11. Pennsylvania

How did Arizona rank?

Arizona was ranked 32 overall, placing it about five spots up from last year’s ranking but still in the bottom half of the list.

The Grand Canyon State performed best in the economy category, where it ranked 10, likely due to the state’s population and business growth.

Arizona also ranked 18th for infrastructure; 20th for health care; 30th for fiscal stability and crime and corrections; 34th for opportunity; 42nd for natural environment; and 44th for education.

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Ranking shows patterns of systemic disparity across the country

Insights into the ranking, especially on the opportunity category, showed disparities by race, gender and disability status across the nation, including the top-ranking states, according to U.S. News. In all states, women were found to be less likely than men to participate in the labor force. Additionally, women on average earn less than men in all states.

Nationally, women made on average just more than 80 cents for every male-earned dollar, translating into a $11,650 annual income gap. Utah, the top-ranking state, has the largest gender pay gap, with men making over $17,500 more per year than women.

Racial and ethnic minorities including Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and other groups of color were found to have less per capita income than non-Hispanic whites.

Nationally, groups of color per capita income was 65 cents per dollar earned by non-Hispanic whites. The smallest gap was 82 cents per dollar in Maine, and the largest gap was 53 cents in North Dakota.

People of color were also found to be more likely to be unemployed than non-Hispanic whites in all states, according to U.S. News. Raking data also showed the unemployment rate is 2.4 times higher for those with a disability than those without across the nation. The disparity was smallest in Nevada and Mississippi, where people with a disability were 1.8 times more likely to be unemployed than those without a disability. It was greatest in Massachusetts (3.4 times), U.S. News reported.

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