There is good news and bad news for Georgia in U.S. News & World Report’s 2019 ranking of best states.
The good news: The state moved up 15 spots from 2018, improved in every category and finished in the top 10 in two categories.
The bad news: Georgia still ranks low in two very important areas — health care and education.
Health care and education were weighted most heavily of the eight categories U.S. News used. The other six categories were: economy, infrastructure, opportunity, fiscal stability, crime and corrections and natural environment.
Within those eight main categories are more than five dozen subcategories of metrics, using data “from extensive and reliable governmental and private sources as well as proprietary data including a national survey of what matters most to citizens around the country.” Read the complete methodology here.
Finishing in the top spot was Washington, followed by New Hampshire, Minnesota, Utah and Vermont, in that order.
Georgia ranked No. 17 for 2019, again improving its standing from previous years. In 2018, the state ranked No. 32, and in 2019 finished at No. 36.
Here’s how the state did in each category.
This is the highest-weighted category. U.S. News looked at “health care access and affordability, health care quality and health outcomes” for residents. This was Georgia’s lowest rank, coming in at No. 39. In the subcategories of health care access, health care quality and public health, the state finished 41, 37 and 36, respectively.
The education ranking measures how well states educate students in preschool, K-12 and different levels of higher education, U.S. News stated. Georgia as ranked No. 30 in this category.
The state was No. 25 in the higher education subcategory. “Bolstered by the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, like many metropolitan areas, has a growing startup scene. Atlanta also is home to Morehouse College, Spelman College and Emory University,” U.S. News wrote. In the pre-K through 12 subcategory, however, Georgia finished in 31st place.
“The economy ranking tracks unemployment rates, GDP growth, migration into the state, patents, new businesses and more,” U.S. News said. Georgia ranked No. 11. In the subcategories, the state finished No. 17 in business environment, No. 13 in employment and No. 12 in growth.
The infrastructure rankings “gauge the quality of states' bridges, public transportation, power grids, broadband and more.” Georgia cracked the top 10 here. In the subcategories, the state was No. 19 for energy, No. 7 for internet access and No. 18 for transportation.
Poverty, affordable housing, and equality for women, minorities and people with disabilities all factored in to this ranking. The state finished No. 21 overall, ranking 18th in the affordability subcategory, 39th in economic opportunity and 12th in equality.
A state’s credit rating, liquidity, pension fund liability and budget balancing all factor in to this ranking. “The fiscal stability of a state’s government is vital to ensuring the success of government-sponsored programs and projects and the quality of life of the state’s residents,” U.S. News wrote. Georgia had its best showing in this category, finishing at No. 9.
Crime and corrections
This category’s ranking is determined by a state’s public safety, and the quality and fairness of its prison systems, including racial bias. Georgia’s overall rank was 27th, finishing No. for corrections but No. 27 for public safety.
Air and water quality, plus exposure to pollution and toxins, factored in to deciding the natural environment ranking. Georgia’s No. 16 rank in air water quality combined with its No. 30 rank in pollution put it at No. 20 overall in this category.
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