You might think people across the nation love where they live. After all, you wouldn’t spend your life somewhere that you truly didn’t love. Right?
Not always. In fact, a Pew Research Center study not too long ago determined that almost half of Americans would rather live somewhere else than they do now.
Well, if you’re in one of the states we’re about to highlight, we don’t blame you for wanting to move.
After analyzing all 50 U.S. states, we came up with this list as the 10 worst states in our nation. It turns out Mississippi is the worst state to live in the country:
The purpose of this study is to use science to determine which of our great American states are the absolute worst. While unbiased, this research does take into account factors that almost all Americans would agree are undesirable.
Read on below to see how we crunched the numbers and how your state ranked or check out the best states to live in America. Unfortunately for the south, things aren’t very…charming.
How do you decide if a state is lousy or not?
In order to rank the worst states to live in the United States, we had to determine what criteria people like or dislike about a place. It isn’t a stretch to assume that people like low crime, solid education, great weather, things to do and a stable economy.
So we scraped the internet for those criteria, ranked which places did not have the stuff people like, and, like magic, got to the answer for the worst states in America.
How we crunched the numbers
We threw a lot of criteria at this one in order to get the best, most complete results possible. Using FBI crime data, the government census, Bureau of Labor Statistics and Sperling’s Best Places, this is the criteria we used:
- Population Density (The lower the worse)
- Highest Unemployment Rates
- Adjusted Median Income (Median income adjusted for the cost of living)
- High Housing Vacancy Rate
- Education (Low expenditures per student and high Student Teacher Ratio)
- Long Commute Times
- High Crime
- The Worst Weather
If you’d like to see the complete list of states, from worst to best, scroll to the bottom of this post to see the abridged chart.
Median income: 5th lowest in the country
Weather: 2nd worst in the nation
Unemployment rate: 8th lowest in the U.S.
Mississippi is, by far, the worst state in the entire country, according to this scientific analysis. Sorry to break the news to you folks down there in the Magnolia State.
The median household income in Mississippi is only $38,882, which is more than $15,000 less than the national average. Unsurprisingly, the weather, measured in terms of sunny days, temperature and humidity, is the second worst in the nation in Mississippi.
Nearly 7% of residents here are unemployed, and just about 1 in 7 homes is vacant or unoccupied. The national average for public school student spending is $12,483. In Mississippi, students only get a fraction of that financial support.
Rebel Yell? Maybe not.
Crime: 4th worst in the nation
Weather: 2nd worst in the nation (tied with Mississippi)
Household vacancy rate: 20%
Yes, we’re aware that Florida is a vacation haven for the retirees and snowbirds, who flock there in droves from northern states. But when more than 1 in 5 homes is vacant or unoccupied in the entire state, that’s not necessarily a place where you can become part of a community, and feel like you’re ‘home’.
Plus, Florida recently had to pass a law so people don’t lie that their dogs are service dogs anymore. Meaning, people are pretending to be blind and crippled to get better parking and seating in restaurants down there.
And there’s the meth and pain pill addiction problem. And bugs. Lots and lots of bugs.
The weather in Florida is atrocious, if you haven’t actually spent time there between April and October. And, in case you have been living under a rock your entire life, you’d know that crime in Florida is sky high. There are only three other states with a higher crime rate than Florida. One of them is lower down on this top 10 list.
The other two: Louisiana (2nd worst crime) and South Carolina (1st).
Meaning if you live in the south, you’d better watch your back.
Crime: 15th highest in the U.S.
Education: 14th lowest spending per student
Weather: 7th worst in the nation
Alabama residents aren’t necessarily underemployed at a higher rate (they’re at the national average), but people here earn far less than the national average, per household.
Crime is significantly higher, per capita here, and the public schools spend much less than other states do on their students. And, once again, weather played a factor here. It can be downright miserable for half of the year in the Yellowhammer State.
But their college football team is awesome. At least they have that.
Education: 6th lowest for public school support in the nation
Household vacancy rate: 7th highest in the U.S.
Crime: 13th highest
The first of several states out west, Arizona has several things going against it. Besides the fact that the summer months can be downright sickening, heat wise, Arizona has a surprisingly high crime rate and very poor support in its school system for its students.
Residents are still recovering from the housing mess here, and nearly 1 in 5 homes sits unoccupied or is vacant for most of the year. That’s off the charts high.
Walmart is the biggest provider of jobs in Arizona.
Crime: 8th highest in the country
Unemployment rate: 2nd highest in the nation
Household vacancy rate: 15%
More than 7% of the workforce of Nevada is unemployed at this time, which isn’t surprising, since nearly half of the state’s population lives in the Las Vegas metro area. And, if you’ve looked at a map in your lifetime, you’d know that Nevada doesn’t necessarily have a lot do to, outside of Vegas. Unless you hunt rattlesnakes for a living.
Crime in Nevada is very high, and nearly 1 in 7 homes is unoccupied. And it’s really hot there for long stretches of the year.
6. West Virginia
Household income: 10th lowest in the U.S.
Weather: 12th worst
Household vacancy rate: 8th highest
Ah, West Virginia. Unfortunately, the butt of many jokes. In this case, West Virginia’s rankings in terms of annual household income ($40,400 a year) and the sheer number of homes that are empty (16%), means the West Virginian economy isn’t…robust.
No one can argue that West Virginia is a beautiful state. Unfortunately, science doesn’t measure beauty. It measures facts, and the fact is, West Virginia is towards the bottom when it comes to factors that people consider desirable.
7. New Mexico
Crime: 8th highest in the nation, per capita
Median income: 6th lowest in the U.S.
Population density: 6th lowest in America
Residents in New Mexico enjoy some of the best weather in the country. And there are some awesome landscapes to enjoy.
But that’s where the enjoyment ends. Economically, and socially, New Mexico has some issues. Its residents are underpaid, and the crime here is very high. In addition, if you’re not into exploring the outdoors, finding entertainment can be a chore. Unless you’re a UFO enthusiast.
New Mexico does have the highest concentration of PhD holders in the entire country.
Crime: 2nd highest in the nation
Weather: 12th worst in the U.S.
Education: 11th lowest support for students
Poor Tennessee. Having the second most crimes per capita in the country is quite a distinction (and a surprising one). But it doesn’t stop there. The weather is less than desirable, and public school students get some of the least support in the country, too.
Across the board, Tennessee doesn’t rank in the bottom 10 in any particular category. It’s just, generally, a bad state, when you consider all of the desirable factors we talked about above.
Commute time: 8th longest in the nation
Crime: 12th highest
Unemployment rate: 8th highest
Weather: 8th worst
You know the saying. There’s Atlanta and there’s the rest of Georgia. According to science, both are undesirable.
When you factor in crummy weather, high crime and a high unemployment rate, things in Georgia could use a fixin’. But the population here is booming. Meaning longer commute times (and less time with the family) if you live in the Atlanta area.
Crime: 11th highest in the US of A
House vacancy rate: 5th highest in the country
Considering the fact that almost every reality television show is shot in Alaska, you’d think it was paradise. Outside of enjoying the raw, natural beauty, you can imagine it takes a hardy individual to want to hack out a living here.
The crime rate is far above the national average, and a lot of homes here are vacant (almost 1 in 5 of them). But on a positive note, the commute time is really short here. Meaning, more time with the family…to fish and build outhouses?
And hey, residents in Alaska don’t have to pay state taxes. That’s good.
There You Have It
Like we said earlier, trying to determine the worst states in America is usually a subjective matter. But if you’re analyzing states with the worst economic situations, where there’s high crime and bad weather, this is an accurate list.
If you’re curious enough, here are the best states in the USA, according to science. Apparently, things are ‘all that’ when it comes to middle America.
- Nebraska (Pop. 1,827,306)
- Iowa (3,047,646)
- Wyoming (562,803)
- North Dakota (676,253)
- Minnesota (5,313,081)
We also wrote about the 10 worst cities to live in America. Click here to read that story.