Best and Worst States for Child Homelessness: Is the data believable?

A “study” from the National Center of Family Homelessness was released this week and garnered national press.  It reported that 1 out of every 50 children were homeless during the “study” period of 2005-2006.  In addition it was reported over 1,500,000 children were homeless during the “study” period. The “study” also ranked the Best and Worst States.

We view the “data” as suspect and exaggerative. 

The “study” defines homelessness in such a way that many quality families and successful parents’ children were determined to be homeless in 2005-2006.  Let’s start with a few key parts of the definition of homelessness from the “study.”

Your children would be determined to be homeless if for just one day during the “study” period they were:

“• Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as doubled-up);
• Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative accommodations;”
Source: The National Center of Family Homelessness

Let’s look at the example of an executive who gets a new job and sells his home in the state he used to work.  If the family lives in an extended stay hotel in their new state while waiting to close on their new home, the children are determined to be homeless.   Suspect data to me.

In addition, if a young couple lives with in-laws, which is highly common, the children can be determined to be homeless.

If your family lives in a trailer park, the children can be considered homeless according to the definition.

Of the 1,500,000 children that were determined “homeless” by the “study” here is the breakdown:

Doubled-Up (56%)
Shelters (24%)
Unknown/Other (10%)
Hotels/Motels (7%)
Unsheltered (3%)

Source: The National Center of Family Homelessness

63% of “homeless” children are either staying with other families or living in hotels! Only 37% are in the other classifications.   I would like to thank Tom Palmer for breaking this story.  He makes some additional great points on his blog.

The Worst State for Child Homelessness from the “study” is Texas.  The Best State is Connecticut.

The state rankings follow.  Read them with caution.

1 Connecticut
2 New Hampshire
3 Hawaii
4 Rhode Island
5 North Dakota
6 Minnesota
7 Wisconsin
8 Massachusetts
9 Maine
10 Vermont
11 Iowa
12 South Dakota
13 Illinois
14 Pennsylvania
15 West Virginia
16 New Jersey
17 Virginia
18 Maryland
19 Delaware
20 Ohio
21 Wyoming
22 Alaska
23 Idaho
24 Tennessee
25 Washington
26 Oregon
27 Missouri
28 Kansas
29 Michigan
30 Indiana
31 Oklahoma
32 Alabama
33 Montana
34 Nebraska
35 Colorado
36 Arizona
37 Utah
38 New York
39 South Carolina
40 California
41 Mississippi
42 Kentucky
43 Florida
44 North Carolina
45 Nevada
46 Louisiana
47 New Mexico
48 Arkansas
49 Georgia
50 Texas

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Best and Worst States for Mortgage Rates, Georgia Best, Illinois Worst

Best and Worst States for Mortgage Rates

Zillow Interest Rate Monitor released yesterday the Best and Worst States for Mortgage Rates.

Georgia is the Best State for Mortgage Rates in the nation with a 5.14% for an average fixed rate 30 year mortgage.  Washington is the 2nd Best State for Mortgage Rates with a 5.15% rate.  The U.S. average rate is 5.23%.

Illinois is the Worst State for Mortgage Rates in the nation with its rate of 5.36% and Missouri is rated the 2nd Worst State in the nation at 5.35%.  Zillow reports mortgage rates weekly and is a valuable source of additional info on the real estate market.

The state you live can have a significant impact on your mortgage rates as lenders take local market history into consideration when making loans.  States with high foreclosure rates and price volatility cause more challenges for lenders when establishing mortgage pricing.

                        Average 30-yr.        Average 30-yr.
                         Fixed Rate            Fixed Rate
    State           Week ending 2/15/09    Week ending 2/08/09       % Change
    Arizona                 5.24%                  5.39%              -2.7%
    California              5.20%                  5.48%              -5.1%
    Colorado                5.28%                  5.46%              -3.2%
    Connecticut             5.20%                  5.37%              -3.1%
    Florida                 5.19%                  5.36%              -3.2%
    Georgia                 5.14%                  5.32%              -3.2%
    Illinois                5.36%                  5.50%              -2.6%
    Maryland                5.33%                  5.43%              -1.8%
    Massachusetts           5.31%                  5.54%              -4.2%
    Michigan                5.27%                  5.46%              -3.4%
    Missouri                5.35%                  5.51%              -2.8%
    New Jersey              5.21%                  5.42%              -4.0%
    New York                5.31%                  5.60%              -5.1%
    North Carolina          5.26%                  5.40%              -2.7%
    Oregon                  5.16%                  5.37%              -3.8%
    Pennsylvania            5.18%                  5.34%              -3.0%
    Tennessee               5.33%                  5.50%              -3.1%
    Texas                   5.27%                  5.43%              -2.9%
    Virginia                5.21%                  5.38%              -3.1%
    Washington              5.15%                  5.37%              -4.0%

Best and Worst States for U.S. Presidents, Virginia has Most

In What States were Presidents Born?

Virginia is the Best State for Presidents with 8 Presidents born in its state.  Ohio is second with 7. Massachusetts and New York with 4 are ranked third.  Many states have no Presidents.

George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson and William Henry Harrison were all born before the U.S. became a country.  Their colonies later became states and are reflected as such in the table.

Happy Presidents Day!

U.S. President Birth States
1. George Washington (1789-97) Virginia
2. John Adams (1797-1801) Massachusetts
3. Thomas Jefferson (1801-09) Virginia
4. James Madison (1809-17) Virginia
5. James Monroe (1817-25) Virginia
6. John Quincy Adams (1825-29) Massachusetts
7. Andrew Jackson (1829-37) South Carolina
8. Martin Van Buren (1837-41) New York
9. William Henry Harrison (1841) Virginia
10. John Tyler (1841-45) Virginia
11. James K. Polk (1845-49) North Carolina
12. Zachary Taylor (1849-50) Virginia
13. Millard Fillmore (1850-53) New York
14. Franklin Pierce (1853-57) New Hampshire
15. James Buchanan (1857-61) Pennsylvania
16. Abraham Lincoln (1861-65) Kentucky
17. Andrew Johnson (1865-69) North Carolina
18. Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77) Ohio
19. Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-81) Ohio
20. James A. Garfield (1881) Ohio
21. Chester A. Arthur (1881-85) Vermont
22. Grover Cleveland (1885-89) New Jersey
23. Benjamin Harrison (1889-93) Ohio
24. Grover Cleveland (1893-97) New Jersey
25. William McKinley (1897-1901) Ohio
26. Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09) New York
27. William H. Taft (1909-13) Ohio
28. Woodrow Wilson (1913-21) Virginia
29. Warren G. Harding (1921-23) Ohio
30. Calvin Coolidge (1923-29) Vermont
31. Herbert Hoover (1929-33) Iowa
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45) New York
33. Harry S. Truman (1945-53) Missouri
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61) Texas
35. John F. Kennedy (1961-63) Massachusetts
36. Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69) Texas
37. Richard M. Nixon (1969-74) California
38. Gerald R. Ford (1974-77) Nebraska
39. Jimmy Carter (1977-81) Georgia
40. Ronald Reagan (1981-89) Illinois
41. George Bush (1989-93) Massachusetts
42. William J. Clinton (1993-2001) Arkansas
43. George W. Bush (2001-2009) Connecticut
44. Barack Hussein Obama (2009-) Hawaii

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Best and Worst States for Wind Energy

Where does your state rank on use of Wind Power?

The American Wind Energy Association recently published data on Existing Wind Energy Capacity in Megawatts and
construction underway.

Texas is the Best State for Wind Energy with 7116 megawatts(mw) of existing capacity.  It also has the highest construction with 1,651 mw underway.  Iowa, California, Minnesota and Washington round out the Top 5 Best States for Wind Energy.

There are a number of States on the list for the Worst States for Wind Energy.  The bottom 10 states have no wind energy capacity and none underway according to the AWEA. For a great map of all states go to American Wind Energy Association

Also check out my previous post on Best and Worst States for Electricity RatesWashington which has the 3rd lowest rate in the nation for electric rates is also in the top 5 for Wind Energy.  Connecticut, on the other extreme, has the 49th highest cost of electricity in the country yet has no wind energy capability.  It does not even have any underway.

If you believe oil and gas prices could go up again in the future you might want to consider living in a state that is serious about other forms of power.

Best States for Wind Energy

Rank State Existing Underway
1 Texas 7,116 1,651
2 Iowa 2,790 20
3 California 2,517 275
4 Minnesota 1,752 0
5 Washington 1,375 70
6 Colorado 1,068 0
7 Oregon 1,067 250
8 Illinois 915 201
9 New York 832 464
10 Kansas 815 199
Worst States For Wind Energy
Rank State Existing Underway
50 Louisiana 0 0
49 Kentucky 0 0
48 Georgia 0 0
47 Florida 0 0
46 Delaware 0 0
45 Connecticut 0 0
44 Alabama 0 0
43 North Carolina 0 0
42 Mississippi 0 0
41 South Carolina 0 0

Source: American Wind Energy Association Blog Search Engine

Best and Worst States for Smart Drivers, Kansas Best, New Jersey Worst

GMAC does an annual study of state rankings for the Best and Worst States for driver knowledge.

Kansas drivers are rated the most knowledgeable. Wyoming, Nebraska, Idaho and Minnesota round out the top 5 Best States respectively. New Jersey is Worst State for knowledgeable drivers.  DC, New York, Massachusetts and Georgia are rated along with New Jersey as the 5 Worst States.

The study was done by administering a 20 question to test to 5,524 licensed drivers and ranking the results by state.  The Midwest has
the most knowledgeable drivers while the Northeast had the lowest scores and highest exam failure rates.  For more detail go to

We will take a look in another post whether state insurance rates are associated with driver knowledge.

Best and Worst States for Knowledgeable Drivers 2008

1          Kansas
2          Wyoming
3          Nebraska
4          Idaho
5          Minnesota
6          Arkansas
6          South Dakota
8          Oregon
9          Iowa
9          Washington
11        Indiana
12        Wisconsin
13        Utah
14        Missouri
15        Alabama
15        Colorado
15        Montana
18        Michigan
18        Texas
18        Vermont
21        North Dakota
22        Arkansas
22        North Carolina
22        New Mexico
22        Oklahoma
26        Delaware
26        Ohio
28        Florida
29        Kentucky
30        New Hampshire
31        Maine
32        Illinois
33        California
33        Connecticut
33        Tennessee
36        Arizona
36        Nevada
36        Pennsylvania
39        South Carolina
40        Vermont
41        Rhode Island
42        Maryland
43        West Virginia
44        Louisiana
45        Hawaii
46        Mississippi
47        Georgia
48        Massachusetts
49        New York
50        District of Columbia
51        New Jersey

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California gets Worst State Credit Rating in country

California today received its Standard and Poor credit rating.  California was rated an “A.”  It is now the Worst State in the U.S. for credit ratings.  It was previously tied for last with Louisiana.  Most States in the U.S. have “AAA” or “AA” ratings from Standard and Poor.

California will now have to pay higher interest to investors for its borrowings.  This could cost the state billions going forward.  For example, Georgia which issued bonds yesterday and has a “AAA” rating had to pay 2.99%.  It is estimated California General Obligation bonds would have been priced to yield 4% if it issued bonds yesterday based on its rating.

California is one of the Worst States for Employment.

California also has one of the heaviest tax burdens in the nation.

Its citizens will be paying more taxes to pay for its higher debt costs.

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Best and Worst States for Beer Drinkers, Beer Taxes on the Rise

New York State Governor Paterson recently issued the NY State Executive Briefing Book 2009-2010

Among the myriad of over 100 state tax increases, the Governor proposes a more than doubling of the states’ tax on beer from  $.11 per gallon to $.24 per gallon.  California Gov. Schwarzenegger has proposed an increase of $.05 on all alcohol related drinks.  Jerry Hirsch of the LA Times last week wrote Is his the end of Two Buck Chuck?

The Best and Worst States for Beer Drinkers 2008 is listed below.  The work is done by the  The Tax Foundation.

Best States for Beer Drinkers  (Lowest Tax)

1.  Wyoming           $.02
2.  Missouri             $.06
2.  Wisconsin          $.06
4.  Colorado            $.08
4.  Oregon               $.08
4.  Pennsylvania     $.08

Worst State for Beer Drinkers  (Highest Tax)

50.  Alaska              $1.07
49.  Georgia            $1.01
48.  Hawaii               $.93
47.  South Carolina  $.84
46.  Alabama            $.71

Dollars per gallon of beer

For a listing of all states go to:  Tax Foundation Beer Excise Tax Map 2008

With so many states having financial problems and looking to increase taxes, it is certain many states will follow California and New York with higher taxes on beer and other alcohol related products.  If beer drinking is a passion, watch the trends in your state and stock up before the new taxes go into effect.  The Best and Worst States map will clearly change in 2009.  We will keep you posted.
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State Unemployment Up in Every State in the Union, Wyoming Best, Michigan Worst State

State Unemployment Up in Every State in the Union, Wyoming Best, Michigan Worst State

State Unemployment Up in Every State of the Union

Michigan Surges to 10.6%.  Wyoming has lowest unemployment in nation at 3.4%.  Rhode Island  is the only other state with over 10.0%. California at 9.3% leaves millions of Californians unemployed. 

Texas was the only state that recorded a statistically significant year on year increase in the number of people working.  Employment increased by 153,000.   The largest statistically significant month over month decreases in employment were experienced in California (-78,000), Michigan (-59,000), New York (-54,000) and Illinois (-36,000).  Losing states show up in a number of areas for being unattractive to business.  See some of our other posts for info on state tax burdens, unionionization rates and attractiveness for business.

If you are looking for a job, the low unemployment states may provide work but you must be careful to understand the kind of industries and work that is available for your skill sets.  Most states have differing industries and worker needs.  Unemployment for December 2008  is listed below for all 50 states and District of Columbia.  The national unemployment rate is now at 7.2%

     Rank       State                                                                                                                                                                  

5 UTAH 4.3
6 IOWA 4.6
11 KANSAS 5.2
12 MONTANA 5.4
14 HAWAII 5.5
17 TEXAS 6.0
22 IDAHO 6.4
22 VERMONT 6.4
24 ALABAMA 6.7
26 ARIZONA 6.9
29 MAINE 7.0
29 NEW YORK 7.0
35 ALASKA 7.5
37 OHIO 7.8
41 FLORIDA 8.1
41 GEORGIA 8.1
43 INDIANA 8.2
46 OREGON 9.0
47 NEVADA 9.1
51 MICHIGAN 10.6

Source:  Bureau of Labor Statistics

Best and Worst States for SAT Scores

Student SAT scores are an important indicator of college preparedness.  Where a child grows up and gets educated can dramatically alter his or her performance and opportunities in life.  Here are the Best and Worst States for SAT Scores for 2008.

Editors Note:  For the latest 2009 State Sat Scores got to State SAT Scores 2009

For the latest in Best States for Jobs 2009 go to Best States for Job Openings September 2009

According to the CollegeBoard SAT 2008 College-Bound Seniors State SAT reports the Best and Worst States for SAT scores are:

Best States for SAT Scores

Rank    State                 R      M       W         Total
1.    Iowa                       608    613    586    1807
2.    Illinois                     594    611    588    1793
3.    Minnesota               596    603    577    1776
4.    Missouri                  594    594    587    1775
5.    South Dakota          598    602    567    1767

Worst States for SAT Scores

Rank    State                  R       M       W       Total
51.    Maine                     466    465    457    1388
50.    Dist of Columbia      478    462    471    1411
49.    South Carolina        488    496    475    1459
48.    Hawaii                    484    506    473    1463
47.    Florida                    497    496    476    1469
46.    Georgia                   494    495    483    1472
R- Critical Reading   M-Mathematics   W-Writing

It is also interesting to see where some of our most populated states are ranked.
California is ranked 35, New York  44 and Texas is 41. Employers may also want to take note of these rankings.

South Florida Losing Population. Georgia and North Carolina are favorite destinations.

Florida”s Sun-Sentinel today reports that South Florida is shrinking.

The paper reports that Internal Revenue Service filings show 43,371 fewer people in Broward and 11,028 fewer people in Palm Beach County since 2005.  Birth rates are shrinking and school enrollment is down.  It appears that the population is shrinking on all fronts.  Working age people are finding wages low as compared to the cost of living. Retirees are finding real estate prices, property taxes and homeowners insurance.  Is the state losing its designation as a Best Place to retire.  For full Sun-Sentinel story go to:,0,735270.story.

The paper also reports the favorite out of state destinations that Broward and Palm Beach county residents relocate to.

Top destinations are 1. Georgia, 2. North Carolina and 3. Texas.  For all the details go to:,0,6920758.story