May 14, 2019
I’ll start by acknowledging that ranking states in a holistic-style ranking system is just plain weird. Most people differ wildly on what they’re looking for when they choose where to live. So I clicked a U.S. News & World Report article, released Tuesday, that claims to rank all 50 states in the United States from No. 1 to No. 50 with a hefty dose of trepidation.
And then they ranked Pennsylvania the 10-worst state in the country. C'mon.
The ranking takes eight factors into account, each weighted differently: health care (16%); education (16%); economy (14%); infrastructure (13%); opportunity (13%); fiscal stability (11%); crime and corrections (10%); and natural environment (8%).
Pennsylvania managed to finish in the bottom 15 in the country in everything but health care, education, and opportunity, including two bottom-10 finishes in economy (seventh-worst) and infrastructure (eighth-worst).
It feels superfluous to say, but ranking states without grading transportation and culture leaves the criteria feeling incomplete.
(Also, no points for Super Bowl wins?)
Still, Pennsylvania finishing below Kentucky and Indiana, and an entire 12 spots below Montana of all places, probably isn’t where the state’s residents imagine they fit in the country’s landscape. Slow job growth, low renewable energy usage, and high juvenile incarceration didn’t help the Keystone State’s image.
Oft-maligned New Jersey, on the other hand, managed to finish No. 12 overall, including Top 10 showings in heath care (sixth), education (second), opportunity (eighth), and crimes and corrections (sixth).
You can dive into the full list here, including state-by-state breakdowns, if you want to feel crummy about where you live. If not, you can remain blissfully ignorant and continue to enjoy Pennsylvania's vital major cities, vibrant (and diverse) cultures, and occasionally breathtaking natural beauty.