The 10 Worst US States To Live In

Baton Rouge, sitting along the eastern bank of the Mississippi River, is Louisiana's capital and second-largest city.

The United States is considered one of the world's best countries to live in. That doesn't mean, however, that each of the 50 states is equally ranked. State rankings were determined by Health Care (HC), Education (ED), Economy (EC), Opportunity (OP), Infrastructure (IN), Crime & Corrections (CC), Fiscal Stability (FS), and Quality of Life (QL) — the short form included here as used in the table below. Some of the states clearly excelled in some areas over others. Some states, on the other hand, were ranked poorly across all eight factors. The following examines the lowest-ranked overall states of the US.

Worst US States To Live In


Although Louisiana is famous for its music, cuisine, and festivals, the state ranked as the worst state to live in the United States scoring poorly across all eight factors. It is the 31st largest state in terms of size at 52,378 sq mi and the 25th most populous with a population of 4.68 million. However, only 29% of population has received a college education, and the medium income across the state sits at $24,407. Louisiana ranked the absolute lowest (#50) out of all 50 states in opportunity due to extremely low rankings in poverty rate (#49), food security (#47), and gender income gaps (#50). Higher rates in cost of living (#16) and housing affordability (#20) were not enough to raise the opportunity ranking from last place among all the states.


Mississippi ranked as the second worst state to live in, performing poorly across all eight factors. The state sits as the 32nd in terms of size at 48,432 sq mi and population at 2.99 million. Mississippi has the largest population of African Americans of any state, with African Americans accounting for 37% of the population. The state ranked the overall lowest in health care (#50) of the 50 states and in #46th position in terms of education. 31% of the population has a college education and the mean income is $22,171, slightly lower than Louisiana. Interestingly, Mississippi ranked #16 in crime and corrections and #6 in quality of life due in part to its urban air and drinking water quality.

New Mexico

New Mexico ranked the third worst state in the US. The state is known for having the highest percentage of Hispanic and Latino Americans of any state at over 55% of the population, as well as the second-highest percentage of Native Americans at over 11% of the population, including the the Navajo, Pueblo, and Apache peoples. Although New Mexico is the 36th most populous state with a population of 2.08 million, it is the 5th largest state with an area of 121,590 sq mi. The medium income sits at $24,085, similar to that of Louisiana, and 36% of the population have received a college education. New Mexico ranked overall lowest (#50) of any state in terms of education due in large part to a low high school graduation rate. In contrast to its low rankings in the other seven categories, New Mexico ranked 1st in low pollution health risk, helping it achieve 8th place overall in the quality of life category.

The Best US States To Live In

Iowa ranked first place overall, and received high rankings in infrastructure (#1), health care (#3), opportunity (#4), education (#5), and quality of life (#9) while it ranked lower in other areas such as crime and corrections (#15) , economy (#17), and fiscal stability (#21). Minnesota ranked second overall and stood out for its 2nd place ranking in quality of life. Utah ranked third and was ranked the most financially stable state. North Dakota ranked fourth and was the state with the best quality of life. New Hampshire ranked fifth and offered the best opportunities.

Table Legend

The states were ranked 1 through 50 in eight categories. The categories — written in short-form in the table below as seen here — are Health Care (HC), Education (ED), Economy (EC), Opportunity (OP), Infrastructure (IN), Crime & Corrections (CC), Fiscal Stability (FS), and Quality of Life (QL). The rankings 1 through 50 of each state among these eight categories determined the state's overall ranking 1 through 50.

The 10 Worst US States To Live In

1 Louisiana4749445044484842
2 Mississippi504648494916456
3 New Mexico315046444749448
4 West Virginia4445492350333645
5 Alabama4647384832432535
6 Arkansas494240414647207
7 Alaska284050542504719
8 Oklahoma4839363831342217
9 South Carolina4148153933421830
10 Kentucky453445302294627

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