US News And World Report has released its latest ranking of “best states” for 2018 and the results might surprise you. The winner is a midwestern state with the best infrastructure and broadband access in the country.
And that state is…Iowa?
In addition to those first-place rankings, the Hawkeye State also boasts top-10 rankings in health care (No. 3), opportunity (No. 4), education (No. 5) and quality of life (No. 9). However, Iowa’s high rankings in each of these categories mask lower sub-rankings that illustrate the challenges facing Iowans as a slowing-growing, rapidly aging state.
The study focused on 77 metrics across eight categories. They are:
- Health care
- Fiscal stability
- Quality of life
For example, the state is ranked No. 17 for economy, while ranking toward the bottom for business environment (No. 46) and for some of the other measures of economic strength: growth of the young population (No. 36), venture capital investment (No. 38) and entrepreneurship (No. 45).
Iowa is known for its farms, but surprisingly, manufacturing has become the state’s largest industry, and many rural areas benefit from the construction of new, large processing and production facilities well outside of city limits.
Yet Iowa’s other growing non-farm sectors, like health care, insurance and finance, biotechnology research and development, are the kinds of businesses found almost exclusively in metropolitan areas, says David Swenson, an economist with Iowa State University.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds
Unfortunately, one state representative said Iowa’s low unemployment rate, a key part of the state’s economic ranking, does not necessarily mean that non-Iowans should have a “reasonably good expectation of getting hired” if they decide to move to Iowa.
A recent study found that between 2011 and 2015, workers under age 44 with only a high school diploma were the largest cohort moving to the state. The state’s biggest loss during the same period, however, was among workers with a four-year or advanced degree.
Graduation rates from the state’s public institutions are among the highest in the country and contributed greatly to its No. 5 overall ranking for education.
Iowa is No. 1 in terms of the graduation rate for public high schools and is No. 3 for the graduation rate for four-year public colleges. However, cost is still an issue: The state is No. 19 for tuition and fees, and No. 32 for low debt at graduation for in-state students at four-year institutions.
Meanwhile, Iowa’s No. 3 ranking in health care is based on top-10 rankings in child wellness visits (No. 1), health-care affordability (No. 2), low infant mortality rate (No. 2), Medicare quality (No. 3), insurance enrollment (No. 5), health care access (No. 5) and health care quality (No. 9). There is one hitch, though: The state ranks No. 37 for obesity.
The state’s lowest broad-category ranking was in fiscal stability, where it ranked No. 21.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds appeared on “CBS This Morning” to discuss the rankings, as well as other topics pertaining to the report and current events.
NEW: Iowa has been ranked as this year’s top state in the 2018 @USNews & World Report list.
#4 North Dakota
#5 New Hampshire
The report ranked Mississippi 49th and Louisiana last. pic.twitter.com/OF4itMgOVl
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) February 27, 2018
See a breakdown of the top-10 states below:
4. North Dakota
5. New Hampshire