The Best and Worst Thing About Every State

The Best and Worst Thing About Every State

Residents of every state have something they can be proud of. Whether it is great weather, a valuable natural resource, a famous event, or the fact that the local population tends to be healthy or successful, every state has its upside.

However, each state comes with unique drawbacks as well. Some states are prone to natural disasters like hurricanes, blizzards, and wildfires. Others have systemic issues like underfunded schools and pensions.

To determine the best and worst thing about every state, 24/7 Tempo reviewed health and income data from the U.S. Census Bureau as well as numerous other studies, reports, and events.

Though each state does have positives and negatives, certain preferable attributes are more common in some states than others. Many states rank among the healthiest, the best educated, and the safest places in the country. These states tend to have higher incomes and more job opportunities. These are the states with the best and worst economies.

The Best Thing About Every State

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Best thing: America’s best college football program

The University of Alabama has won 17 national football championships, including the 2017 title, and is No. 1 again this year.

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Best thing: Wide open spaces

There are just 1.2 people per square mile in Alaska.The next lowest density state, Wyoming, has a density of 5.8 people per square mile, while the United States has 87.4 people per square mile.

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Best thing: The Grand Canyon

What is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep? America’s greatest natural wonder, the Grand Canyon.

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Best thing: Ozark Mountains

The picturesque Ozarks owe their name to French explorers. The name is derived from the French phrase “aux arcs,” the northernmost bend in the Mississippi River.

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Best thing: Lowest gender pay gap

California women make 89 cents for every dollar a man makes — certainly not perfect, but a higher rate than in any other state.

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Best thing: Least obese

Just 22.4% of Colorado adults are considered obese. Most states have obesity rates over 30%.

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Best thing: UConn basketball teams

The women’s and men’s basketball teams at the University of Connecticut have won 15 national championships between them — 11 for the women’s team and four for the men’s team.

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Best thing: Tax haven

More companies are incorporated in Delaware than in any other state. Over 60% of Fortune 500 companies are based in Delaware.

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Best thing: Beach access

Outside of Alaska, Florida has more coastline than any other state. Unlike Alaska, Florida’s coasts are warm. The state has 825 miles of accessible beaches, and no point in the state is more than 60 miles away from the water

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Best thing: Birth of civil rights movement

Georgia is the birthplace of both the Civil Rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr.

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Best thing: Longest life expectancy

The island lifestyle may have unknown benefits, as Hawaii residents are the only ones in the country with an average life expectancy of 81.2 years.

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Best thing: Potatoes

Idaho’s soil is ideal for growing potatoes, and the state famously produces more of the crop than any other state.

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Best thing: Quality education

Illinois is home to many of the country’s top-ranking public schools.

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Best thing: A city that likes to go fast

The state capital of Indianapolis is arguably more connected with motor sport racing than anywhere in the country. The Indianapolis 500 race is considered one of the biggest single-day events in sports.

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Best thing: Recession-proof

Iowa has had a remarkably stable economy over the years. While national unemployment rose above 10% after the housing crisis, Iowa unemployment topped out at 6.6%. Since January 2008 until the pandemic, the state’s unemployment has averaged at 4.6%, one o

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Best thing: Feeding America

More than half of the land in Kansas is farmland. The state produces billions of dollars worth of corn, wheat, soybeans, and more each year.

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Best thing: Horse breeding and racing

Home to the Kentucky Derby, the state is known for breeding and raising horses. Its famous bluegrass is ideal for horse pasture because it is considered nutritious and palatable for the animals.

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Best thing: Mardi Gras

New Orleans and all of Louisiana know how to party, especially when it’s Mardi Gras. The traditional feast, parade, and celebration draws over 1 million people each year.

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Best thing: Lowest violent crime rate

Maine ranks as the safest state in the country, as there were just 115 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 residents — less than a third of the national rate.

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Best thing: Highest median household Income

Maryland residents are the most affluent in the country, with a median household income of $86,738 — more than $20,000 higher than the U.S. median.

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Best thing: Highest health insurance coverage

At 97.0%, Massachusetts has a higher share of residents with health insurance than anywhere else in the country.

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Best thing: Great Lakes

Michigan borders four of the Great Lakes, and has miles of beautiful shoreline to visit.

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Best thing: Soundest Sleepers

Minnesota residents are the most likely to get enough sleep. Just 29.1% of state adults report insufficient sleep, the only state under 30%.

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Best thing: Mississippi Delta, birthplace of the blues

Many American genres owe their origins to the blues, which were developed in the Mississippi River delta.

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Best thing: Kansas City and St. Louis Barbecue

Folks in Kansas City and St. Louis will put their barbecue up against offerings from Texas or North Carolina.

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Best thing: High school attainment

Montana has one of the highest high school attainment rates in the country among adults.

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Best thing: Officially nonpartisan legislature

Nebraska has the only unicameral — or single chamber — legislature in the country.

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Best thing: Solid infrastructure

According to a 24/7 Wall St. index of roads, bridges, and train infrastructure, Nevada ranks as the state with the best infrastructure

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New Hampshire
Best thing: Low poverty rate

New Hampshire’s poverty rate is just 7.3% — the lowest among states and 5 full percentage points lower than the U.S. poverty rate.

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New Jersey
Best thing: Highest state Pre-K spending

New Jersey spends over $14,000 per child enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs. No other state spends even $11,000 per child for pre-k.

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New Mexico
Best thing: Least likely to have cancer

According to the most recent data, New Mexico residents have the lowest incidence of cancer. There were just 361 diagnoses per 100,000 residents, compared to 430 diagnoses per 100,000 Americans overall.

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New York
Best thing: Living longer

The life expectancy for New Yorkers has increased by 9.8% over the past 25 years, a much larger increase than any other state. Residents now have a life expectancy of 81 years, tied for the third longest among all states

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North Carolina
Best thing: The Outer Banks

The Outer Banks, home to America’s first colony and where the first manned flight took off, are a tourist mecca because of their beaches, state parks, and shipwreck diving sites.

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North Dakota
Best thing: Oil boom

North Dakota’s economy has been through a boom period, thanks in part due to the development of the Bakken shale oil formation. Between 2011 and 2016, state GDP rose by roughly 25%.

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Best thing: America’s backbone

Ohio is the manufacturing hub of America. Ohioans make more plastics, rubber, fabricated metals, and appliances than any other state.

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Best thing: Excellent Pre-K

Oklahoma has one of the more comprehensive Pre-K programs in the country. It is one of only three states to mandate funding for Pre-K for all four year olds.

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Best thing: Most environmentally friendly

According to a 24/7 Wall St. index, Oregon ranks as the most environmentally friendly state in the country.

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Best thing: Cheesesteak sandwich

Debate raged about the best maker of the Philadelphia delicacy, but the sandwich is popular enough to be made all across the country.

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Rhode Island
Best thing: Mansions of the rich and famous

You can see vestiges of the Gilded Age at estates such as the Breakers in Newport.

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South Carolina
Best thing: Charleston one of best cities to travel

Tourists are beguiled by the antebellum charms of Charleston, annually ranked as one of the best U.S. cities according to Travel + Leisure magazine.

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South Dakota
Best thing: Resilient economy

From Feb. 2020 through March 2021, just 17.7% of South Dakota’s labor force filed for unemployment benefits, the lowest share in the country. Over 20% of workers filed for unemployment benefits in every other state.

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Best thing: A city of music

Known as Music City, Nashville is home to one of the most vibrant music scenes of any city. And Elvis Presley himself called Memphis, which also has a strong music community, home.

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Best thing: Energy production

Texas accounted for 43% of the nation’s crude oil production in 2020, by far the most of any state.

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Best thing: Fewest smokers

Just 9% of Utah adults report smoking, the lowest share of any state.

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Best thing: Feeling good

Just 12.8% of Vermonters reported being in either fair or poor health, the lowest share in the country. Nationwide, 16.5% of all Americans feel that they are in fair or poor health.

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Best thing: Home of the most U.S. presidents

Virginia is the birthplace of eight presidents — George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Henry Harrison, Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson — more than any other state.

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Best thing: Highest GDP growth

Washington’s GDP grew by 23.7% from the end of 2015 to the end of 2020, higher growth than in any other state.

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West Virginia
Best thing: Most affordable homes

The median cost of a West Virginia home is only 2.6 times higher than the median household income in the state, the lowest ratio among all states. Nationwide, the affordability ratio is 3.7.

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Best thing: Cheese

If you had any doubt that Wisconsin is the center of the cheese universe, this next fact should put it to rest. In August 2018, a cheese board with 4,437 pounds of fromage graced a Madison, Wisconsin, street to set a Guinness World Record.

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Best thing: Yellowstone

Almost all of Yellowstone National Park, one of the most beautiful places in the country, can be found in the northwest corner of Wyoming.

The Worst Thing About Every State

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Worst thing: Car commuters

Alabama is tied for the highest share of workers who commute in their own car, at 93.8%. The state has among the lowest shares of people who walk, bike, take public transit, or work from home. This contributes to traffic and pollution, and long solo car commutes can have negative long-term health impacts

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Worst thing: Violent crime problem

Alaska’s violent crime rate is 867.1 per 100,000 people, well more than double the nationwide rate.

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Worst thing: Alzheimer’s disease increase

Arizona is projected to have a 33.3% increase in the number of adults with Alzheimer’s disease by 2025, the largest projected increase in the nation.

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Worst thing: Teen birth rate

Arkansas has the nation’s highest teen birth rate, at 43.5 births per 1,000 residents aged 15-19 years old.

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Worst thing: Lowest high school attainment

Roughly one in six Californians have not finished high school, the highest rate in the country.

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Worst thing: Into thin air

Colorado has an average altitude close to 7,000 feet above sea level, which means that it can be harder to breathe for those who aren’t acclimated. The “Mile High City” of Denver has an estimated 17% less oxygen.

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Worst thing: Plummeting employment

From March 2016 to March 2021, the number of people working in Connecticut dropped by a U.S.-leading 11.5%, even as overall employment grew nationwide.

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Worst thing: Blink and you’ll miss it

Delaware has no real identity — it has no major cities and is overshadowed by the sprawling metropolises of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.

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Worst thing: Hurricane hampered

Florida is constantly being hit by hurricanes. Of the 292 hurricanes that have hit the U.S. since 1851, 120 made landfall in Florida.

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Worst thing: Lacking in immunizations

Less than two thirds of Georgia children have been immunized against diseases like mumps and measles, the lowest share in the nation.

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Worst thing: Least sleep

Experts recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night, but 43.2% of Hawaiians fail to meet that threshold.

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Worst thing: Most destruction due to wildfires

Between 2008 and 2017, most states had less than 1% of their land damaged by wildfires. In Idaho, 10.6% of the land was burned — accounting for nearly 5.6 million acres. Idaho is one of just two states in which over 25% of homes are at extreme wildfire risk.

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Worst thing: Pension crisis

As of 2020, Illinois only has enough money tucked away to meet 38.9% of pension obligations for public sector workers. This is the lowest share in the country. Most states can afford over 70% of their obligations.

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Worst thing: Spike in crime

Indiana is home to Kokomo — the only major metro area in the U.S. in which violent crimes more than doubled over the last five years.

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Worst thing: Bad place to bike

According to a recent report, Iowa is the least safe state to bike, as five of the 10 most dangerous cities to bike are in the state.

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Worst thing: Perhaps the most geographically boring state

Kansas is flat and geographically homogeneous. Driving through the state can put many to sleep.

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Worst thing: Highest cancer mortality

Kentucky reported 186 cancer deaths per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the nation.

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Worst thing: Most expensive car insurance

In Louisiana, it costs $2,839 to insure the average car, nearly double the average nationwide cost and over $700 higher than the next closest state.

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Worst thing: Least diverse

According to the latest Census data, 94.4% of Maine’s population is white, beating out nearby Vermont and New Hampshire as the least diverse states.

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Worst thing: Murder in Baltimore

There were over 58 murders committed in Baltimore per 100,000 residents last year, the highest murder rate among cities with a population of at least 250,000.

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Worst thing: Boston sports fans

Some may find Boston sports fans insufferable because their professional teams win frequently. The Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics have each won at least one championship since 2000, combining for a total of 12.

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Worst thing: Detroit and Flint, the two worst cities to live in

According to a 24/7 Wall St. index of crime, economy, education, environment, health, housing, infrastructure, and leisure, Detroit and Flint are the worst cities in the U.S. to reside in.

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Worst thing: Brutal blizzards

The Red River Valley in Western Minnesota gets more blizzards than any other part of the country.

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Worst thing: Highest poverty rate

Those who live in Mississippi are more likely to be impoverished than residents of any other state. Some 19.6% of state residents earn incomes at or below the poverty line..

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Worst thing: Flooding

Author Mark Twain immortalized life on the Mississippi River, but for Missouri residents, the waterway can be deadly. Some of the worst floods in American history are due to the Mississippi’s fury.

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Worst thing: Lowest tax refund

Montana has an average federal tax refund of $2,459, the lowest of all 50 states. The average refund in the U.S. is over $3,700.

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Worst thing: Dangerous Drivers

QuoteWizard named Omaha drivers as the worst in the country, in large part because they are most likely to be caught driving under the influence.

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Worst thing: Least Literate State

According to a 24/7 Wall St. index of reading skills, educational attainment, and library prevalence, Nevada ranks as the least literate state in the U.S.

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New Hampshire
Worst thing: No funds for preschool

New Hampshire is one of just a handful of states that does not provide any funding for pre-kindergarten programs.

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New Jersey
Worst thing: Most hazardous waste sites

Although New Jersey is one of the smaller states, it has 114 hazardous waste sites, the most of any in the country.

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New Mexico
Worst thing: Children in poverty

New Mexico has the highest share of low-income children of any state, at 56%.

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New York
Worst thing: Longest average commute

The typical New York resident who commutes to work every day spends 34 minutes in their vehicles, or in public transit, the longest commute of any state.

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North Carolina
Worst thing: Evictions all too common

North Carolina has one of the highest rates of evictions in the country.

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North Dakota
Worst thing: COVID-19 struggles

North Dakota has the second lowest share of COVID-19 vaccines distributed per capita, as well as the second highest share of cases per capita, as of September 2021.

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Worst thing: Sports futility

Ohio’s NFL teams — the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals — have never won a Super Bowl. Neither the Reds or Indians in the MLB have won a title in 30 years. The Columbus Blue Jackets have had one playoff series win in their 20 years in the NHL. Native son LeBron James did lead the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first title in 2016, then left for the Los Angeles Lakers two years later.

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Worst thing: Smallest improvement in life expectancy

Life expectancy has improved across the country over the past few decades, but Oklahoma had the smallest improvement. Life expectancy at birth in the state has increased by just 3.4% since 1980. Oklahoma’s current life expectancy is the fourth lowest among states.

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Worst thing: Homelessness is a serious problem

Soaring rents have contributed to Oregon’s homelessness problem. In some counties, homelessness has risen by more than 100%.

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Worst thing: Wastewater

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave Pennsylvania’s wastewater system a D- grade. Over 1.6 million homes in the state are serviced by systems that fail over 20% of the time, and the average sewer system is over 70 years old.

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Rhode Island
Worst thing: Power is pricey

Rhode Island has the highest average electricity price of the lower 48 states, at 23.4 cents per kilowatt hours. It is the only state in the continental U.S. in which electricity costs over 20 cents/kWh.

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South Carolina
Worst thing: Highest average monthly energy bill

South Carolinians pay an estimated $144 on average on their monthly energy bill, the highest in the lower 48 states.

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South Dakota
Worst thing: Poorly paid teachers

The average salary for a public school teacher in the state is just over $50,000 per year when adjusted for the cost of living, the lowest of any state.

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Worst thing: Difficult for older people

According to America’s Health Rankings, seniors in Tennessee have a hard time finding care. This is because of the relatively low number of health care providers like home health workers and geriatricians, and that many residents 65 and older skip care they cannot afford.

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Worst thing: Difficult to drive

Seven of the 25 worst American cities to drive are in Texas. These cities include Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Odessa.

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Worst thing: Highest skin cancer rate

Utah has by far the highest rate of reported new cases of skin cancer among both men and women.

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Worst thing: Opioid epidemic

From 2019 to 2020, the number of overdose deaths in Vermont increased by 57.6%, the highest percentage of any state.

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Worst thing: Bad state for sports fans

Virginia is the 11th most populous state, but does not have a single team in the NHL, NBA, MLB, or NFL.

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Worst thing: Rain, rain, rain

Seattle has earned a reputation for being one of the rainiest places in the country, as it rains there an average of 152 days a year.

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West Virginia
Worst thing: Low educational attainment

West Virginia adults are the least likely to have a bachelor’s degree in the country. An estimated 21.1% of state residents hold at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 33.1% of all Americans.

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Worst thing: Most excessive drinkers

Over 27% of Wisconsin adults drink to excess, which is the highest share of any state.

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Worst thing: Dangerous roads

Wyoming had 25.4 traffic fatalities per 100,000 residents in 2019 — the highest rate of all states and more than double the U.S. traffic fatality rate

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