Georgia drops a spot on annual U.S. News ranking of best states

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The Peach State still stayed in the top 20, however

Georgia is still a pretty good state, just not quite as good as it was last year, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking of Best States.

Georgia finished No. 18 overall, which is good, but a step down from 2020, when we finished No. 17.

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The Best States rankings show how each of the 50 U.S. states ranks in 71 metrics across eight categories. The data behind the rankings aims to show how well states serve their residents in a variety of ways. The eight categories, with Georgia’s 2021 | 2020 rankings, are:

Health care: 43 | 39

Education: 26 | 30

Economy: 12 | 11

Infrastructure: 11 | 10

Opportunity: 13 | 21

Fiscal stability: 11 | 9

Crime & corrections: 29 | 27

Natural environment: 25 | 20

As you can see, although Georgia improved greatly for opportunity and education, the Peach State fell in all other categories.

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In the state’s worst category, health care, U.S. News found that 18.9% of Georgia’s population was without health insurance, compared with the national average of 12.9%. Also, of 100,000 patients, Georgia admitted 4,936 to the hospital for reasons that were preventable (national average: 4,378); and an obesity rate of 33.1% (national average: 32.1%).

Among the 70 metrics, the state’s best showing was No. 5 for internet access, in the infrastructure category. The lowest metrics ranking was No. 46 for health care access, in the health care category.

You can explore Georgia’s rankings further on the U.S. News & World Report site.

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In order to select metrics for the project, the editors consulted experts in each of the categories for guidance. These are the criteria used in choosing metrics:

» Metrics that measure resident outcomes in a state were favored over inputs or outputs. For example, they selected the percentage of state residents who have an associate degree or higher instead of the dollars spent on education per capita or the number of students enrolled at state universities.

» The set of metrics within each category should work together to provide an overview of that category.

» Government data was favored over other sources because of its reliability.

» Standardized data needed to be available across all or most states. Publicly available data was favored for its accessibility.

» Data for each measure should be recent and have regularly scheduled updates.

It should be noted that data used to compile the 2021 rankings predominantly came from a period predating the COVID-19 pandemic and were not affected by the pandemic’s impact.

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Washington claimed the title of Best State for the second year in a row, finishing among the top 10 in the infrastructure, education, economy, fiscal stability and health care categories.

“Washington’s low-carbon energy system and robust secondary education continue to rank among the nation’s best, as does the state’s economy, the fastest growing in the nation,” U.S. News wrote in a press release.

Rounding out the top five were Minnesota, Utah, New Hampshire and Idaho, in that order. The only Southern state to crack the top 10 was Florida, which finished No. 10.

Conversely, eight of the bottom 10 states are in the South: Kentucky (41), South Carolina (42), Oklahoma (43), Arkansas (44), Alabama (46), West Virginia (47), Mississippi (49) and Louisiana (50). Alaska finished No. 45, and New Mexico was No. 48.

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