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Residents of each state have at least one aspect of their home they can brag about, but also one they would probably rather forget.

New York state residents may gloat about the fact that the state has the highest-paid public school teachers, but probably wouldn’t want to broadcast that state workers have the longest average commutes. Alaskans are probably happy to live in a state with wide-open spaces, but they are likely less proud of the state’s nation-worst unemployment rate. Idahoans no doubt are proud of their potato production, but also are probably unhappy about their state’s high risk of wildfires.

Not all states are created equal. Some are home to major metropolises rich with culture and commerce. Others are blessed with natural resources, beautiful natural monuments, parks, and waterways. Some states have healthy populations; in others, important historical events unfolded, while highly positive social or economic factors are the main attraction of others.

The other side of this coin is that some states are devoid of resources or culture. In some states, the populations are struggling due to poor economic conditions or pollution. The histories of some states include events residents would prefer to be forgotten.  

24/7 Wall Street reviewed many data sets and state facts to identify the best and worst features of every state:


Best: 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.

Worst: Nobody walks anywhere

Just 1.2 percent of Alabamians walk to work, the lowest rate in the country, and less than half the national rate.


Best: 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.

Worst: High unemployment

Alaska's 2017 unemployment rate of 7.2 percent is well ahead of the 4.4 percent national rate and a full percentage point higher than the next highest state.


Best: 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.

Worst: It is very hot

In Phoenix and Tucson, the nation’s hottest cities, normal mid-summer temperatures are at least 100 degrees.


Best: 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.

Worst: Fewest broadband users

Just 73 percent of Arkansas households have access to a broadband internet connection and all the resources it can connect them to.


Best: 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.

Worst: Lowest high school attainment

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


Best: Least obese

Just 20.5 percent of Colorado adults are considered obese. Most states have obesity rates well over 25 percent.

Worst: 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 percent less oxygen.


Best: UConn basketball teams

The women's and men's basketball teams at the University of Connecticut have won 15 national championships between them. In March 2018, though, the women's team had its 36-game winning streak snapped by Notre Dame in the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.

Worst: Most expensive electricity in lower 48

Connecticut is the only mainland U.S. state in which residents pay, on average, over 20 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity.


Best: Tax haven

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

Worst: 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.


Best: Not falling apart

According to an index of structurally deficient bridges, hazardous dams, and unserviceable roads, Florida has the safest infrastructure in the nation.

Worst: Fewest libraries per capita

It may be tough for Floridians, especially children, to become avid readers as the Sunshine State has fewer libraries per person than any other state.


Best: Birth of civil rights movement

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

Worst: Bad traffic on highways, particularly Atlanta

Atlanta's "Spaghetti Junction" was ranked worst by the American Transportation Research Institute in its listing of the Top 100 Truck Bottlenecks in the U.S.


Best: 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 years.

Worst: Least sleep

Experts recommend that adults get at least seven hours of sleep per night, but 44.7 percent of Hawaiians fail to meet that threshold.


Best: Potatoes

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

Worst: Most destruction due to wildfires

Between 2008 and 2017, most states had less than 1 percent of their land damaged by wildfires. In Idaho, 10.6 percent of the land was burned -- accounting for nearly 5.6 million acres.


Best: Quality education

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

Worst: City of rats

Chicago was rated as the rat capital of the world in 2017, with more than 50,000 complaints about rats filed.


Best: A city that likes to go fast

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

Worst: A less-than-comfortable retirement

Indiana is one of only two states with an average retirement income of less than $20,000.


Best: Recession-proof

Iowa has had a remarkably stable economy over the years. While national unemployment rose above 10 percent after the housing crisis, Iowa unemployment topped out at 6.6 percent. Since January 2008, the state's unemployment has averaged at 4.6 percent, one of the lowest of any state.

Worst: A 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.


Best: Fewest roads in poor condition

Less than 1 percent of Kansas roads are deemed unserviceable, the lowest share of any state.

Worst: Perhaps the most geographically boring state

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


Best: 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.

Worst: Highest cancer mortality

There were 512 cancer diagnoses and 196 cancer deaths per 100,000 Kentucky residents in 2015 -- both are the highest rates in the nation.


Best: Least expensive electricity

Louisiana residents pay less per kilowatt hour of electricity than those in all other states.

Worst: Largest gender pay gap

American women make just over 80 cents for every dollar a man earns. In Louisiana, female workers make less than 69 cents on the dollar.


Best: Lowest violent crime rate

Maine ranks as the safest state in the country, as there were just 124 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 residents -- less than a third of the national rate.

Worst: Least diverse

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


Best: Highest median household Income

Maryland residents are the most affluent in the country, with a median household income of $80,776 -- more than $20,000 higher than the U.S. median.

Worst: Murder in Baltimore

There were over 50 murders committed in Baltimore per 100,000 residents last year, the highest murder rate among cities with a population of at least 100,000.


Best: Highest health insurance coverage

At 97.2 percent, Massachusetts has a higher share of residents with health insurance than anywhere else in the country.

Worst: Boston sports fans

Some may find Boston sports fans insufferable because their professional teams win frequently. It's about to get worse. The Red Sox have already won 100 games and have their sights set on winning the World Series. The Patriots are primed to extend their streak of consecutive winning seasons to an NFL-record of 18 wins.


Best: Great Lakes

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

Worst: 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.


Best: lowest premature mortality

Minnesota residents are the most likely to live into old age, with a U.S.-low premature mortality rate. Just 263 state residents per 100,000 die before turning 75.

Worst: lowest average winter temperatures

In the land of 10,000 lakes, you can bet almost all of them are frozen in winter. Minnesota has the lowest annual average temperature in the contiguous United States.


Best: Mississippi Delta, birthplace of the blues

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

Worst: highest poverty rate

Those who live in Mississippi are more likely to be impoverished than residents of any other state. Some 19.8 percent of state residents earn incomes at or below the poverty line..


Best: 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.

Worst: 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.


Best: High school attainment

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

Worst: Dangerous roads

Montana has among the highest driving fatality rate in the country, likely in part due to long drives on dangerous, remote country roads.


Best: Officially nonpartisan legislature

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

Worst: Lowest state pre-k spending

Among the states that offer pre-kindergarten programs, Nebraska is the only one that spends less than $2,000 per child in state funding.


Best: Lowest skin cancer rate

Even though it is hot and sunny in Nevada, its residents are less likely to be diagnosed with skin cancer than those in any other state.

Worst: 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.

New Hampshire

Best: Healthiest senior citizens

Some 83.2 percent of older adults in New Hampshire reported being in either good, very good, or excellent health -- a higher share than all other states.

Worst: High property taxes

New Hampshire, which once had a reputation as among the most fiscally conservative states, assesses the second-highest property taxes in the nation.

New Jersey

Best: Highest state Pre-K spending

New Jersey spends over $12,000 per child enrolled in pre-kindergarten programs. No other state spends even $10,000 per child for pre-k.

Worst: 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.

New Mexico

Best: Lowest average monthly energy bill

Power bills can be frustrating, but typically less so for New Mexico residents. The average state resident paid just $75.96 per month for energy in 2016.

Worst: Worst chance for school success

According to Education Week's Quality Counts 2018 report, New Mexico children have just a 67 percent chance at success, meaning education does poorly in promoting positive outcomes over the course of an individual's schooling.

New York

Best: Highest paid public school teachers

New York public school teachers earn a U.S.-best median of $79,152, nearly $2,000 higher than the next state.

Worst: 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.

North Carolina

Best: 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.

Worst: Evictions all too common

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

North Dakota

Best: 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 percent.

Worst: Recent GDP decline

While GDP is up over five years, stalled oil prices have resulted in a recent decline in North Dakota's economy. In the last year, state GDP has declined by almost 5 percent, the largest GDP decline.


Best: Lowest projected Alzheimer's increase

The number of people with Alzheimer's is expected to increase by just 13.5 percent between 2018 and 2025, the smallest increase of any state.

Worst: Horrible air pollution

Ohio has the highest average concentration of fine particulate pollution of any state.


Best: 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 Pre-K for all four-year-olds.

Worst: 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 increased by just 3.8 percent since 1980. Oklahoma's current life expectancy is the fifth lowest among states.


Best: Most environmentally friendly

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

Worst: Homelessness is a serious problem

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


Best: 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.

Worst: Highest gas tax

Pennsylvania has the highest gas tax in the country, at 58.7 cents per gallon.

Rhode Island

Best: Mansions of the rich and famous

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

Worst: Falling apart

In 24/ Wall St.'s infrastructure index, Rhode Island rated the worst for the combined quality of its roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

South Carolina

Best: 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.

Worst: Highest average monthly energy bill

South Carolinians pay an estimated $146 on average on their monthly energy bill, the highest in the country and more than double that of some states.

South Dakota

Best: Most sleep

Just 28.8 percent of South Dakota adults report getting insufficient sleep every night, the lowest share of any state, and well below the 36.5 percent of Americans who do.

Worst: Poorly paid teachers

The average salary for a public school teacher in the state is just $42,025 per year, the lowest of any state.


Best: 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.

Worst: A violent crime problem

Tennessee has one of the highest violent crime rates of any state, and Memphis, the second largest city in the state, has the third highest violent crime rate in the country.


Best: Energy production

Oil produced in Texas accounts for about 30 percent of the nation's oil-refining capacity. A recent surge in oil prices is serving as a tailwind for the Texas economy.

Worst: Lowest health insurance coverage

Just 82.7 percent of Texas' population has health insurance coverage, the lowest share of any state. The national civilian health insurance coverage rate is 91.3 percent.


Best: Fewest smokers

Just 8.8 percent of Utah adults report smoking, the lowest share of any state.

Worst: Highest skin cancer rate

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


Best: Most doctors per capita

There are 112 primary care physicians per capita in Vermont, the most of any state in the U.S.

Worst: Opioid epidemic

In 2014, the opioid crisis became so bad in Vermont that the state declared an emergency.


Best: 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.

Worst: 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.


Best: Highest one-year GDP growth

Washington’s GDP grew by nearly 4 percent in 2016, higher growth than in any other state.

Worst: Rain, rain, rain

Seattle doesn't quite as much total rainfall as its reputation suggests compared with many other American cities, but it rains often -- 152 days a year.

West Virginia

Best: Fewest excessive drinkers

While some parts of West Virginia face addiction problems, that does not extend to alcohol. According to the latest CDC figures, less than 12% of state adults drink to excess, which is the lowest share among states.

Worst: Most smokers

Almost one in four West Virginian adults smoke, the highest share in the country.


Best: 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 dairy goodness graced a Madison, Wisconsin, street to set a Guinness World Record.

Worst: Most excessive drinkers

Over one in four Wisconsin adults drink to excess, which is the highest share of any state.


Best: 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.

Worst: Unequal representation

Just 11.1 percent of the state's senate and legislature seats are occupied by women, the smallest share of any state.

24/7 Wall Street is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news and commentary. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

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