The 20 Worst States to Live in America
The U.S. ranks at position 20 internationally in quality-of-life measures. However, policies and programs contribute to significantly different experiences across the states in the U.S. every year.
World Reports and U.S. News release the best state rankings to indicate how each state performs on measures that affect the quality of life. The metrics used include; education, healthcare, infrastructure, financial stability, crime rates, opportunity, and natural environment.
The worst states offer the worst quality of life for their residents. So, which are the worst states in 2022? Here is an exclusive review of the 20 worst states to live in in 2022.
20. Indiana – Healthcare, Climate
Despite the low percentage of poverty, Indiana is one of the worst states to live in the U.S., as suggested by other factors. The state ranks 48th in public healthcare spending per capita, with each individual granted just $55 per year.
Indiana is also among the top ten states in the U.S. regarding high smoking rates and obesity, with many adults reporting that they take little to no exercise.
This has undoubtedly attributed to lower life expectancy (77.1 years) than the national average of 79.2 years. The extreme temperatures here also influenced its worst ranking. Indiana experiences hot and humid summers and damp, chilly winters with a significant cloud cover.
19. Tennessee – Crime Rate, Healthcare
Tennessee is famous for its iconic smoky mountains, delicious chicken, and country music. However, the state has a wrong side that makes it a bad state to live in.
It has among the worst crime rates in the U.S., ranking third highest in robbery, rape, severe assault, and murder. Regarding health metrics, Tennessee has the 6th lowest life expectancy in the country at 76.2 years.
Its general population health is also low, with the state having among the highest smoking, obesity, and low exercise levels. The state has a poverty level of 15.3%, one of the highest in the nation.
18. Texas – Voting Rights, Inclusiveness
Texas is highly popular for its massive strength as a perfect place for business. However, the state frequently tries to outdo itself with exclusive regulations and laws.
It’s among the few states with no laws that protect against discrimination in public accommodations. The democrats in Texas successfully turned down a bill that would restrict voting further while it’s already one of the problematic states to vote.
The governor and legislators are advancing a special session to enact the registration. The Democratic lawmakers went out of the state to hold the process down and attract national attention.
17. Delaware – Health Resources
Recent statistics reveal that Delaware citizens are more likely to be unhealthy than in other states. According to U.S. News, the state has an average life expectancy of 78.6 years which is several months lesser than the national average.
More so, with a poverty level of 12.5%, lower than the national figure, a relative number of Delaware residents are not financially secure.
16. Pennsylvania – Healthcare, Education
Pennsylvania is another state that ranks poorly in terms of education and health. Only 31.8% of residents in Pennsylvania have a bachelor’s degree, with the national average being 32.6%.
Also, the average life expectancy at birth in Pennsylvania is 78.2 years which is a year less than the country’s average of 79.1 years. Adults with a degree are highly likely to lead healthier lifestyles and have better health outcomes.
The state’s lower education attainment might be linked to the lower-than-average life expectancy. In terms of population growth, Pennsylvania experienced a 1.6% population increase over the last ten years, significantly lower than the 6.6% nationwide population increase.
The slow population growth shows that the state is a less desirable place to live compared to its neighboring states.
15. Florida – Unemployment, Education
Compared to average Americans, Floridians have less probability of having a college education. They are also more likely to go through severe financial difficulties. Just 30.4% of residents in Florida have a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to the national average of 32.6%.
The state has a poverty level of 13.6%, which is higher than the country average of 13.1%. These are some of the factors that make Florida among the worst states.
14. Idaho – Education, Health
Idaho gets to the list of the worst states to live in, mainly for its low education levels. The state has the lowest bachelor’s degree completion rates nationwide at only 27.7%, compared to a country average of 32.6%.
Lower education levels are typically associated with an unhealthy lifestyle and low earnings. But despite the low bachelor’s degree attainment rate, Idaho has a poverty percentage of 11.8, which is relatively lower than the average 13.6 % throughout the country.
13. South Carolina – Crime, Education Level
Next on the list is South Carolina, highly attributed to its shortcoming in education and high crime rates. The state’s school is lower than the Country’s high school graduation rates and K-12 performance measures (81% to 85%).
It is also said to have the worst poverty gap, increasing the difference in education quality between wealthy and poor students.
South Carolina ranks among the highest in violent crimes, with the country’s 5tth highest homicide rate and a 10% higher juvenile incarceration than the national average. The assaults and murder rates have been increasing steadily since 2016.
12. Maine – Health, Education Level
Maine ranks the lowest among the states in the New England region. It’s the only state in New England with a lower bachelor’s degree attainment rate than the country’s average.
Only 31.5% of Maine’s residents have completed college, which is lower than the national average of 32.6%. The lower education levels have also been attributed to the higher unhealthy lifestyle and lower life expectancy than any other state in New England.
11. Louisiana – Food Insecurity, Crime, Education
Louisiana has been one of the worst states in the U.S. since 2017. it has low performances across all measurement statistics, particularly education and crime. Education and employment opportunities in Louisiana are among the worst in the country.
According to World Population Review, Louisiana has a 19% poverty level, contributing to the highest food insecurity. Additionally, criminal justice and crime rates are severe concerns in Louisiana.
The state ranks top in the country for homicide, with a rate of 15.8 murders per 100,000 people, with Missouri coming second at 11.8 homicides per 100,000. Louisiana also has the highest incarceration rate, with 680 incarcerated individuals per 100,000.
10. New Mexico – Education, Health, Poverty Level
New Mexico is among the worst states in the U.S., mainly attributed to opportunity and education metrics. The state’s education system ranks last in the country.
According to EdWeek Research Center, the state’s public schools rank worst in the nation. Only less than 75% of the New Mexican students graduate from high school, which is relatively lower than the national average of 85.8%.
New Mexico has a high poverty level of 17%, which gives it one of the lowest opportunity metrics. More so, about 26% of kids live below the poverty line, which is the highest level in the country.
9. Alaska – Crime, Economy, Unemployment
Alaska has fallen further into the rankings, slightly worse in 2022 than in the previous years. The state’s economy is 50th in the country, from 46th in 2019.
This is partly attributed to the Corona pandemic, which hurt the state’s heavy dependence on tourism and oil. According to statistics by the Alaskan Department of Labor, the state is behind the national average in unemployment, job creation, and wage growth. Alaska also led the country in violent crime rates.
8. Arkansas – Crime, Healthcare
Next on our list of the worst states to live in 2022 is Arkansas, mainly due to crime rates and healthcare concerns. The state’s healthcare access, particularly dental care, is ranked among the worst in the U.S. Residents have one of the lowest rates of dental visits, with a significant percent avoiding healthcare because of high cost.
This state also has the second highest rates of cardiovascular disease and tobacco use. with high rates of economic hardship and low education levels. According to The Sentencing Project, it’s no surprise that Arkansas has the fourth highest violent crime and incarceration rate.
7. Nevada – Poor Healthcare, Low Education Levels
Lower education is often associated with lower life quality. Only a quarter of the population in Nevada has attained a bachelor’s degree.
However, lower education cannot make Nevada the worst state to live in on its own. Its public health spending and allocation of hospital resources have contributed to its inclusion on the list. Nevada ranks worst in primary care doctors per capita and spends the lowest inhabitant’s health per person per year at $50.
11.2% of the state’s residents don’t have health insurance, resulting in a lower life expectancy. Nevada has had among the highest unemployment rates in the nation for years. However, at 12.9%, the poverty rate is relatively lower than in several states.
6. Arizona – Air Quality, Crime
Arizona is a beautiful state for outdoor enthusiasts to settle. It features several natural wonders like the Havasu Falls, Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley.
However, appearances can sometimes be deceiving, and Arizona is among the worst locations to live in 2022. While we can’t overlook the natural sceneries, overcrowded cities such as Phoenix leads to one of the worst air qualities compared to other states.
This, combined with insufficient public health funding, is the worst news for people with respiratory issues. Arizona also has an above-average poverty rate of 14%.
During the summer, using an air conditioner becomes a necessity, resulting in a massive energy bill that many people cannot afford. Some residents living in poverty enter into crime to pay the expenses. This puts the state in the 10th ranking on the worst violent crime rate in the nation.
5. West Virginia – Infrastructure, Economy, Healthcare
West Virginia is another low-ranking, worse state to live in, which is significantly contributed by its poor economy, infrastructure, and healthcare statistics.
The state has one of the worst unfractured systems in the country, with about a third of the roads in poor condition. The Infrastructuredreportcard.org rates West Virginia with a grade of D, showing that the state systems are at risk, with most elements reaching the edge of their service life.
4. Oklahoma – Health Resources, Poverty
Analyzing the general health of a state’s population can help you decide if it’s an excellent place to live or not. Unluckily, these statistics indicate that Oklahoma is one of the worst states in the U.S. to live in.
According to Audacy.com, around 14.2% of Oklahomans have no insurance, making the state to have one of the lowest inurement rates in the country. This, together with the poverty level of 5.6%, makes the state one of the worst. It’s not surprising that life expectancy is one of the lowest.
3. Kentucky – Healthcare, Financial Instability
While Kentucky performs well in terms of infrastructure, low crime rate, and opportunity metrics, its healthcare concerns and fiscal instability overshadow some of these strengths.
Kentucky performs poorly in various health metrics, including high levels of preventable hospitalization, low childhood immunization rate, and people’s habits. The state is second in a high rate of sleep deprivation and smoking while ranking last in exercising and consuming vegetables and fruit.
2. Mississippi – Childcare, Health, Unemployment, Food Insecurity
Mississippi has maintained its spot as the second worst state in the U.S. since 2017 due to its poor performance across numerous metrics. Mississippi ranks last on the Economic Hardship Index.
About 19% of Mississippi residents live on or below the poverty line. The state has a per capita income of $25,300, the lowest in the country.
The food insecurity and unemployment levels in the state are also the worst. Regarding healthcare, Mississippi ranks the worst with the highest rate of obesity, cesarean delivery, infant mortality, preterm birth, and low birth weight.
About a fifth of Mississippi residents have no health insurance, with fifteen percent claiming to avoid going for healthcare because of financial issues.
1. Alabama – Healthcare, Education, Inclusiveness
Alabama is the worst in 2022, with poverty rates at around 16.8%. According to the agency, most households earn less than $50,000 annually, below the $62,000 national average annual earning.
The poverty levels also account for low education standards, with just 25.5% of Alabama having attained a bachelor’s degree or more. Low income and lack of education mean more probability of poor lifestyle choices such as unhealthy food.
The state has a life expectancy of 71.4, about four years less than the national average. More so, Alabama is among the few states without legal protection against discrimination for non-disabled citizens, which makes life much more challenging for minorities.