Wisconsin ranks well in U.S. News & World Report’s inaugural ‘Best States’ list

The new ranking published by U.S. News and World Report places the state of Wisconsin a respectable 16th on its first “Best States” list.

The ranking measures how citizens experience their state, based on more than 10,000 data points and 68 different metrics. Wisconsin’s highest ranks among seven categories were fifth for government and 10th for crime and corrections. Government ranks states on transparency, integrity, fiscal stability and their use of digital technology in serving residents, and crime and corrections ranks states based on public safety and the quality and fairness of their prison systems, including racial bias, according to U.S. News and World Report.

The state of Wisconsin ranked a respectable 16th in U.S. News and World Report’s inaugural rankings of the “Best States” in the country.

Ranked against other states on the economy, Wisconsin came in 35th, the state’s lowest ranking behind a 37th rank for infrastructure.

“The new Best States rankings and platform are a comprehensive effort to provide citizens with a full picture of what’s working and what needs to be improved in their states,” said U.S. News and World Report editor Brian Kelly in a statement.

The rankings looked at different categories, such as health care and infrastructure, and weighted them according to what citizens consider the most important, based on survey results. Health care and education topped the list, so the state of Massachusetts’ strong performance in those areas (No. 2 and No. 1, respectively) vaulted that state into the No. 1 spot overall. Wisconsin ranked 21st for health care and 17th for education.

A more detailed look at the government category showed that Wisconsin benefits from having a strong, well-funded pension system, which placed the state at the top of the list. That drives the state’s ranking of 15th for fiscal stability.

Wisconsin ranks high for government digitalization (6th) and government transparency (6th) but was given middling ratings for state integrity (23rd). The state integrity ranking evaluates anti-corruption measures in political financing, electoral oversight and more.

U.S. News and World Report is best known for its college rankings. The Best State rankings are a new effort, compiled by consultant McKinsey and Company. Researchers relied on troves of government and other data, measuring everything from high school graduation rates to violent crime rates to commute times.

The top five best overall states are geographically and politically diverse. Following Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Minnesota are the No. 2 and No. 3 best overall states, respectively. North Dakota places fourth, and Washington rounds out the top five.

Hawaii is No. 1 in health care; Oregon takes the top spot in infrastructure; Colorado is No. 1 for economy; and Indiana places first for government. Citizens can explore rankings in energy, higher education, transportation, employment, equality, affordability and much more. They can also compare states across a range of issues, from incarceration rates and prison overpopulation, to road and bridge quality, household income, poverty rate, gender equality, unemployment and more.

Southern states generally performed worst in the rankings. Louisiana was ranked as the worst state overall, followed by Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and New Mexico.

Read the original story at the Milwaukee Business Journal.

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