Best and Worst States for Happiness?

Mainstreet.com has recently published a ranking of states called the “Happiness index.”

It is a knock off of the famous “misery index” that was so politically influential in the late 70’s and early 80’s.

The Best State for Happiness is NebraskaIowa, Kansas, Hawaii and Louisiana round out the top 5.

The Worst State for Happiness is Oregon Florida, California, Rhode Island and Nevada round out the bottom 5 of the Worst States for Happiness.

While we find the index interesting, it really should be viewed as a simple financial happiness index as it does not factor many other issues that contirbute to the happiness of a population in a state.  For example, for livability Louisiana is rated 46th one of the worst states see our blog Livability Index.   Hawaii is a very high cost of living state and even if you are employed lifestyle may still be challenging.

The index also does not factor in any other factors such as health, weather or rankings of mental happiness so while useful I would suggest you take a much broader look at other factors in a state than this simple “Happiness Index.”  Many of these other factors are discussed in posts on this site.

Happiness Index
www.mainstreet.com

Best and Worst States for Individual Taxes, Maryland Worst, 6 States Best

The Tax Foundation has recently published its 2009 ranking of the Best and Worst States for Individual Income Taxes.

The Best States for Individual Taxes are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Washington and Wyoming all rated a 10.0 in their Index.

The Worst State for Individual Taxes is Maryland.  Rounding out the bottom 5 Worst States in order are California, New Jersey, Ohio and Iowa.

If you want to keep more of the money you earn, pick a low tax state.  This list is useful.

Individual Income Tax Index, 2009
State Score (a) Rank
Alaska 10 1
Fla. 10 1
Nev. 10 1
S.D. 10 1
Wash. 10 1
Wyo. 10 1
Tex. 9.44 7
Tenn. 7.64 8
N.H. 7.55 9
Ill. 6.97 10
Ind. 6.72 11
Pa. 6.61 12
Utah 6.59 13
Colo. 6.41 14
Mich. 6.41 15
Mass. 6.41 16
Ala. 5.36 17
Miss. 5.35 18
N.M. 5.29 19
Va. 5.24 20
Kans. 5.2 21
Mont. 5.15 22
Ariz. 5.14 23
La. 5.09 24
Conn. 5.07 25
Okla. 5.01 26
Mo. 4.96 27
Del. 4.95 28
S.C. 4.93 29
Ga. 4.91 30
Ark. 4.87 31
Idaho 4.86 32
Nebr. 4.85 33
Ore. 4.84 34
N.D. 4.78 35
Ky. 4.78 36
N.C. 4.46 37
Hawaii 4.38 38
Minn. 4.34 39
Maine 4.33 40
W.Va. 4.33 41
R.I. 4.32 42
N.Y. 4.22 43
Wis. 4.21 44
Vt. 3.81 45
Iowa 3.7 46
Ohio 3.22 47
N.J. 3.18 48
Calif. 2.51 49
Md. 2.06 50
U.S. 5
D.C. 4.4
(a) The index is a measure of how each state’s tax laws affect economic performance.
The higher the score, the more favorable a state’s tax system is for business. All scores are for fiscal years.
Source: Tax Foundation Background Paper, No. 58, “2009 State Business Tax Climate In

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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

Does Spending More on Education Work? State Rankings of Education Spending.

Many States Spend More and Get Less from their Educational Dollars.

Editors Note: 

For the latest 2009 State SAT Rankings go to  State SAT Scores List 2009
For the latest Best States for Jobs see Best States for Job Openings September 2009  and Best States to Find a Job

Also see the States Ranked by Unemployment Increases: Will Jobs improve in 2010?

EPE Research this past week published a state ranking of education spending per student.

While the quality of education may be influenced by the amount of money spent, spending more money does not insure that students actually learn more.  We found it interesting to note how money spent and SAT scores were associated.

The highest spending state, Vermont, is rated 30th in SAT scores nationwide.  The lowest spending state, Utah, gets higher SAT scores from their students and is ranked 20th above Vermont.  Far less money, higher score.  The Best State (highest) SAT score comes from Iowa yet their spending of $9,977 per student is right in the middle at 25th and right at the national average of spending.  The Worst State Sat score comes from Maine yet it spends the 5th most money in the nation.

With all the spending coming out of Congress, we might want to ask for more accountability on results.  The various state legislatures, that are making spending decisions, clearly can not show that more money leads to better results.  Check out our previous post on Best and Worst State SAT Scores

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The data is regionally adjusted so it takes into consideration relative cost.  While SAT scores are only one performance measurement it is an important and consistent test metric across the entire nation.
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Graduation Rates, SAT Scores and Educational Spending. Who is the Best and Worst?

Does increased spending on Education lead to higher performance?

*******Go to 2009 State SAT Scores List  for the latest SAT results.*********

This question was raised in prior posts.

I thought you might find these 2 charts interesting.  Best and Worst States For Education Spending ranks all states by spending and shows the SAT Score Rank of its students. I also have attached a Chart from  Heritage that shows that the best funded cities do not have the highest graduation rates.

The more money spent clearly does not show up in higher SAT scores or graduation rates. 

New Jersey spends the most money.  Its SAT score rank is 33 .  New York, at 2nd on the money spend, ranks 44th on SAT scores.  The “Worst” State for Education Spending is Utah yet its students rank 20th on the SAT score list above NY and New Jersey. Utah spends about 1/3 the dollars of NY and New Jersey.  Its students do better than all of the Top 10 spenders on Education.  Utah may be considered a Best State for Education considering its bang for the dollar.

Arizona
is the next lowest spend state yet ranks 29th on the SAT Scores list.  Arizona students perform better than the top 6 spenders.  Mesa, AZ which is at the bottom of the Heritage list of city spends has a graduation rate of 77.1%.  Mesa spends only 40% of Boston which has a much lower graduation rate of 57%.

Clearly money is not the only factor that impacts educational performance.  You may want to consider carefully your state’s approach to education.  It appears more dollars on education does not lead to better results.  Tell your political leaders you want accountability for results not just money spent.

State Ed Spend SAT Rank
1 New Jersey 15,033 36
2 New York 14,593 44
3 DC 14,214 50
4 Connecticut 13,059 31
5 Vermont 12,749 30
6 Rhode Island 12,425 41
7 Massachusetts 12,398 29
8 Delaware 11,619 43
9 Alaska 11,551 33
10 Maine 11,014 51
11 Pennsylvania 10,900 45
12 Wyoming 10,852 16
13 Maryland 10,682 37
14 New Hampshire 10,405 26
15 Wisconsin 10,388 6
16 Michigan 9,947 13
17 Ohio 9,936 23
18 West Virginia 9,609 32
19 Hawaii 9,581 48
20 Indiana 9,498 38
21 Illinois 9,473 2
22 Virginia 9,463 34
23 Nebraska 9,365 9
24 Minnesota 9,284 3
25 Montana 8,661 22
26 Oregon 8,595 27
27 Georgia 8,589 46
28 Iowa 8,479 1
29 Kansas 8,440 7
30 California 8,418 35
31 Missouri 8,368 4
32 New Mexico 8,342 21
33 North Dakota 8,337 7
34 Colorado 8,334 18
35 Washington 8,218 25
36 Louisiana 8,167 14
37 Arkansas 8,156 11
38 South Carolina 8,039 49
39 South Dakota 7,949 5
40 Texas 7,716 42
41 Florida 7,683 47
42 Kentucky 7,595 15
43 Alabama 7,532 19
44 North Carolina 7,352 41
45 Tennessee 7,295 10
46 Nevada 7,246 41
47 Oklahoma 7,039 12
48 Mississippi 6,973 17
49 Idaho 6,729 24
50 Arizona 6,586 29
51 Utah 5,555 20


Sources:  Dept of Education.  Spending not regionally adjusted.  College Board.

http://www.heritage.org/research/Education/images/b2179_chart5.gif
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Are State Health Mandates reducing Jobs? Best and Worst States for Driving Up Healthcare Costs

Health Care Costs are Rising.  Jobs are scarce. 

Should states be putting more burdens on employers that decrease their ability to hire? What states are making employees more expensive to hire?

The  Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council  publishes an annual  “State Health Care Policy Cost Index.”

If you are an employer you should pay close attention to this study as it identifies the Best and Worst States for Health mandates that drive up health insurance costs.

Idaho is the Best State for Health Care Cost PolicyMassachusetts is the Worst State for Health Care Cost Policy.  Rounding out the Top 5 Best States are Utah, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio.  The bottom 5 includes Washington, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont.

Employers are finding it harder to afford health care costs for employees.  Employers looking for the Best State to hire employees will consider the costs of health insurance.  If you are looking for the Best States for Job Growth this list may matter.
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State                   HSA      GI          CR             M     P/P       Score

1 Idaho 0 0 0.33 0.75 0 1.08
2 Utah 0 0 0.33 1.15 0 1.48
3 Iowa 0 0 0.33 1.25 0 1.58
4 Michigan 0 0 0.33 1.3 0 1.63
4 Ohio 0 0 0.33 1.3 0 1.63
6 Alaska 0 0 0.33 1.4 0 1.73
7 South Carolina 0 0 0.33 1.45 0 1.78
8 South Dakota 0 0 0.33 1.55 0 1.88
9 Pennsylvania 0 0 0 1.9 0 1.9
10 Nebraska 0 0 0.33 1.6 0 1.93
10 Wyoming 0 0 0.33 1.6 0 1.93
12 Dist. Of Columbia 1 0 0 0.95 0 1.95
13 Kentucky 0 0 0.33 1.65 0 1.98
14 North Dakota 0 0 0.33 1.7 0 2.03
15 Oklahoma 0 0 0.33 1.8 0 2.13
16 Kansas 0 0 0.33 1.85 0 2.18
17 West Virginia 0 0 0.33 1.9 0 2.23
18 Missouri 0 0 0.33 1.95 0 2.28
18 Alabama 1 0 0.33 0.95 0 2.28
20 Illinois 0 0 0.33 2 0 2.33
20 Montana 0 0 0.33 2 0 2.33
20 Tennessee 0 0 0.33 2 0 2.33
23 Arkansas 0 0 0.33 2.05 0 2.38
23 Georgia 0 0 0.33 2.05 0 2.38
25 Oregon 0 0 0.66 1.8 0 2.46
26 Louisiana 0 1 0.33 2.15 0 2.48
27 Delaware 0 0 0.33 1.25 0 2.58
28 Virginia 0 1 0 2.75 0 2.75
29 Arizona 0 1 0.33 1.45 0 2.78
29 Mississippi 0 0 0.33 1.45 0 2.78
31 New Mexico 0 0 0.33 2.55 0 2.88
32 Nevada 0 0 0.33 2.6 0 2.93
33 Texas 0 0 0.33 2.7 0 3.03
33 Wisconsin 1 1 0.33 1.7 0 3.03
35 Hawaii 0 0 0 1.15 1 3.15
36 Indiana 1 0 0.33 1.85 0 3.18
37 Minnesota 0 1 0.33 3.2 0 3.53
38 New Hampshire 0 1 0.66 1.95 0 3.61
39 North Carolina 0 1 0.33 2.35 0 3.68
39 Rhode Island 0 1 0.33 2.35 0 3.68
41 Florida 0 0 0.33 2.4 0 3.73
42 New York 0 0 1 2.75 0 3.75
43 New Jersey 1 1 0.66 2.1 0 3.76
44 Colorado 0 0 0.33 2.45 0 3.78
45 Maryland 0 0 0.66 3.15 0 3.81
46 California 1 1 0.33 2.5 0 3.83
47 Vermont 0 1 0.66 1.35 1 4.01
48 Connecticut 0 1 0.66 2.55 0 4.21
49 Maine 0 1 0.66 2.65 0 4.31
49 Washington 0 1 0.66 2.65 0 4.31
51 Massachusetts 0 0.66 2.15 1 4.81

Source:  The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council’s Small Business Policy Series Analysis #33 February 2009
HSA-Health Saving Account Deductions, GI- Guaranteed Issue for Self Employed, CR-Community Rating Mandate, M- Number of Mandates
P/P- Play to Pay Mandate

States will be looking to attract businesses to grow and relocate in the current economic climate in order to drive job opportunities and tax revenue.  They are reviewing how to increase incentives. Reducing State health care mandates will make it more attractive for employers to hire.

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Should You live in a low income State? Livability Rankings

Low Income States Consistently Rated Worst States for Livability

We thought you might like to see a comparison of the Best and Worst States for Livability and the income rankings associated with each state.  Money may not buy happiness but the state you spend it in just might.

Best States for Livability and their Income Ranks

1.      New Hampshire                       $41,512          8
2.      Utah                                        $31,189         45
3.      Wyoming                                 $43,226          6
4.      Minnesota                                $41,034         11
5.      Iowa                                        $35,023         27

Worst States for Livability and their Income Ranks

50.     Mississippi                               $28,845          50
49.     South Carolina                         $31,013          47
48.     Kentucky                                  $31,111          46
47.     Tennessee                                $33,280          39
46.     Louisiana                                  $34,756          31
45.     West Virginia                           $29,537          49
Source:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis
CQ Press 2008 State Livability Rankings

                State income data is for 2007.

The highest income state, Connecticut at $54,117, has a livability ranking of 11. New Jersey, with an average state income of $49,194, has a livability rank of 7.  New York, rated 24th on livability, was rated 4th in income and California was 30th on livability and 7th on income.   It appears very low income states are low on livability yet high income does not insure being rated a Best State for livability.  Utah is a outlier in that it ranks 2 in livability yet has one of the lowest state incomes.

In about 60 days new data will be released on state income levels for 2008.  Also CQ press does a nice study of state livability each year. We will keep you posted when the new data is released.  Review top income states when they are released.  High income does not insure high livability.
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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.

Best and Worst States to Work

Depending on the state you live, you may have more difficulty working in your desired occupation.  Licensing rules make it harder for people to work as in many cases you must spend money for licensing before knowing if you have work.  It limits supply of workers by making it harder for workers to get a job.  Reason Magazine’s study of Occupational licensing highlights states’ occupational licensing requirements.  They even list the “Most Outrageous Licensing Laws.”  Can you imagine that you must have license to be a florist in Louisiana?  No other state does that!  Can you imagine that you must have a license to be a junkyard dealer in Ohio?  No other state has that requirement.  If you travel into Vermont as a photographer you must have a license.  Yet if you live in Vermont you are qualified.  And in Iowa you must have a license to be a munure applicator.  I wonder if there is a special course you can take online to qualify for that!!!!  Licensing requirements hurt workers.  The Best and Worst States follow.  Go to www.reason.org/news/occupational_licensing_rankings_082407.shtml for the full report.

Worst States to Work                         # Job Licenses

1.  California                                                             177
2.  Connecticut                                                         155
3.  Maine                                                                 134
4.  New Hampshire                                                   130
5.  Arkansas                                                             128

Best States to Work

1.  Missouri                                                              41
2.  Washington                                                         43
3.  Kansas                                                               56
4.  South Carolina                                                    60
5.  Idaho                                                                 61