America’s 10 worst states to live in

Share

Top States for Business

America’s 10 worst states to live in

Chicago Assigns Extra Police Due To Threat Of Gun Violence Memorial Day Weekend
Scott Olson | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Far be it for us to dent your home state pride, but the fact is that there are ways to objectively measure quality of life, and some states do not measure up as well as others. Our Quality of Life category in America's Top States for Business, worth 300 out 2,500 total points, looks at factors such as violent crime rates, area attractions, health care, and environmental quality, based on our Top States methodology and sources. These are the 10 worst states to live in this year.

10. New Mexico

New Mexico State Police officers investigate a triple homicide in Dixon on May 31, 2018.
Adolphe Pierre-Louis | The Albuquerque Journal | AP
New Mexico State Police officers investigate a triple homicide in Dixon on May 31, 2018.

This state calls itself the Land of Enchantment. But by the numbers, that borders on false advertising. In 2016, the most recent full year of statistics available from the FBI, New Mexico recorded the second-highest violent-crime rate in the country and the highest rate of property crime. In the first quarter of 2018, the Albuquerque Police Department reported a 50 percent increase in homicides from the year before. New Mexico had the fourth-highest rate of drug deaths in the United States last year, and more than 22 percent of its children live in poverty.

2018 Quality of Life score: 113 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Crime, health

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 9th worst (tie)

9. (tie) Mississippi

Mississippi has the second-highest obesity rate in the nation.
Rogelio V. Solis | AP
Mississippi has the second-highest obesity rate in the nation.

One of this state’s most famous natives was Elvis Presley, who was known to have a penchant for peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches. Too many Mississippians appear to be following his example. Mississippi has the second-highest obesity rate in the nation. Mississippi had the nation's highest cardiovascular death rate in 2017 and the second-highest rate of cancer deaths. Also last year, Gallup found Mississippi had among the highest levels of economic anxiety in the nation. The Magnolia State takes its nickname from a sturdy, robust tree that is abundant in the state. Mississippians might want to look around themselves for some inspiration.

2018 Quality of Life score: 111 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, inclusiveness

Strengths: Low crime, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 7th worst

9. (tie) South Carolina

South Carolina has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the nation.
Rick Gershon | Getty Images News | Getty Images
South Carolina has one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the nation.

Today it is known as the Palmetto State and tourists flock to its 187 miles of coastline, historic sites and a fixture of cultures. But the state loses points due to a high crime rate. In addition, South Carolina is one of America's unhealthiest states, with one of the highest incidences of diabetes in the nation.

2018 Quality of Life score: 111 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 15th worst

7. Oklahoma

A rodeo clown avoids a charging bull while competing in the Bulls and Bands in Oklahoma.
Jason Connelly | AFP | Getty Images
A rodeo clown avoids a charging bull while competing in the Bulls and Bands in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma has the fourth-highest rate of on-the-job deaths in the nation, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The state also has a high obesity rate. Regular exercise does loads to improve general well-being and quality of life, yet only about half of Oklahomans report that they exercise frequently, or at all.

2018 Quality of Life score: 106 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 3rd worst

6. Missouri

Kansas City police investigate a homicide after an attorney was gunned down outside his home in Kansas City.
Tammy Ljunbgblad | Tribune News Service | Getty Images
Kansas City police investigate a homicide after an attorney was gunned down outside his home in Kansas City.

Missouri has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the nation. In 2017 the state reported 600 murders, an 11 percent increase from the year before. Missouri could also stand to show some more inclusiveness. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, the state lacks protections against discrimination for LGBT people, as well as discrimination laws related to employment, including protections for age and marital status.

2018 Quality of Life score: 101 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: High crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 5th worst

5. Indiana

Demonstrators gather at Monument Circle to protest a controversial religious freedom bill during a rally in Indianapolis.
Nate Chute | Reuters
Demonstrators gather at Monument Circle to protest a controversial religious freedom bill during a rally in Indianapolis.

The Crossroads of America is not known for its tolerance of the cross-section of Americans who live and work there. After intense outcry from business leaders and others, the state in 2015 adjusted the deeply controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act soon after it was signed into law by then-governor Mike Pence. The changes, also approved by Pence, helped ease fears that the law could be used to justify discrimination. But Indiana still lacks explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, age or marital status.

2018 Quality of Life score: 100 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Lack of inclusiveness, health

Strength: Attractions

2017 Quality of Life rank: 6th worst

4. Tennessee

An employee stocks cans of tobacco beside a display of Marlboro brand cigarettes inside a tobacco store in Nashville, TN. 
Luke Sharrett | Bloomberg | Getty Images
An employee stocks cans of tobacco beside a display of Marlboro brand cigarettes inside a tobacco store in Nashville, TN. 

With the fifth-highest violent-crime rate in the nation, the Volunteer State could still use some people to step up and start a neighborhood watch program. They might also want to volunteer for a smoking cessation program to help address the state's alarmingly high rate of premature deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for every 100,000 people in Tennessee, nearly 9,500 people die before the age of 75. That is more than 30 percent higher than the national rate. And with no statewide antidiscrimination protections based on marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity, the state could stand to be more welcoming.

2018 Quality of Life score: 96 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strengths: Attractions, air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 9th worst

3. Alabama

Birmingham police respond to a shooting at Huffman High School on March 7, 2018, in Birmingham, Alabama.
Brynn Anderson | AP
Birmingham police respond to a shooting at Huffman High School on March 7, 2018, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Alabama has one of the highest crime rates in the nation, the lowest concentration of mental health providers and no statewide protections against discrimination of any sort. Even so, Alabamans — or as some prefer, Alabamians — are feeling a bit better about their lot in life this year versus one year ago, with nearly two-thirds telling Gallup they feel "active and productive." That helps the state improve on its last-place ranking in this category last year, even though Alabamans don't exactly practice what they preach: Fewer than half say they exercise frequently.

2018 Quality of Life score: 87 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: High crime, health, lack of inclusiveness

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of life rank: Worst in the nation

2. Louisiana

The Shell Norco refinery, in Norco, Louisianna. The refinery is considered one of the largest petrochemical facilities in the United States.
Gerald Herbert | AP
The Shell Norco refinery, in Norco, Louisianna. The refinery is considered one of the largest petrochemical facilities in the United States.

How's Bayou? Not so good in Louisiana, one of the fattest states in the country, with the highest rate of infectious disease, according to the United Health Foundation. The state suffers from high crime and pollution, plus a fair amount of economic anxiety, scoring just 1 out of 25 on Gallup's 2017 Economic Confidence Index. And despite anything you might have heard or seen on Bourbon Street, the state lags in inclusiveness, with no protections against discrimination based on marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

2018 Quality of Life score: 82 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Health, high crime

Strength: Attractions

2017 Quality of Life rank: 2nd worst

1. Arkansas

People attend a livestock auction at Pruitt's Mid-State stockyards in Damascus, Arkansas, on November 6, 2017. 
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
People attend a livestock auction at Pruitt's Mid-State stockyards in Damascus, Arkansas, on November 6, 2017. 

Arkansas calls itself the Land of Opportunity, but some might beg to differ. While the state does provide protections against discrimination based on race, sex, religion and national origin, it lacks such protections based on sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status and age. And it is one of only three states that bars localities from enacting wider protections of their own. According to the most recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 16 percent of Arkansans reported frequent mental distress. That is the second-highest rate in the nation.

2018 Quality of Life score: 81 out of 300 points (Grade: F)

Weaknesses: Lack of inclusiveness, health, high crime

Strength: Air quality

2017 Quality of Life rank: 4th worst