Louisiana was ranked as the worst state in America for the second time, according to the U.S. News & World Report Best States Ranking.
Just ahead of Louisiana are Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia, Alabama and Arkansas. The top five ranking states were Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota and New Hampshire.
The McKinsey & Company ranking compares states’ healthcare, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure and quality of life among other factors to produce its overall best states list. Louisiana ranked 47th in healthcare and education, and 50th in opportunity.
The data used to make the ranking is outdated and doesn’t accurately reflect recent policy changes, according to Office of the Governor Communications Director Shauna Sanford. Recent changes include Medicaid expansion, which allowed 470,000 Louisianans access to healthcare.
Sanford said under Edwards, funding for higher education has been stabilized for the first time in almost ten years, and admissions requests are on the rise by about 20 percent in the University of Louisiana system. The Louisiana State University system’s fall admissions are up 38 percent, and out-of-state students wishing to attend universities in Louisiana are up by 50 percent.
“It is important to put this report in perspective and understand that while it purports to be a snapshot of what’s happening in our state today, in reality it is a misleading report based on old information that is not reflective of what’s currently happening in our state,” Sanford said in an email.
Louisiana ranks 48th in educational attainment, 45th in 4-year college graduation rates and 40th in college readiness, according to the ranking.
Political communications junior Zoë Williamson said she thinks these “ominous numbers are indicative of the legislature’s current outlook on the state’s education and political gridlock.
“It’s interesting that though we rank so low, the legislators are still not willing to put more investment into Louisiana’s education,” Williamson said.
Despite other low rankings in education, Louisiana is 19th in low debt at graduation. Williamson said she largely attributes this ranking to the TOPS program.
Among other data points, Williamson said she was disappointed in the state’s low ranking in low food insecurity, household income and opportunity.
“It makes me really want to move out of this state or work hard to make this not true anymore,” Williamson said.
While Louisiana ranks 42nd in quality of life, Williamson said the ranking fails to take into account numerous studies that crown Louisiana as one of the happiest states in the country.
Quality of life measures the natural and social environments of each state, taking into account pollution, water quality, voter participation and community engagement among other factors. Williamson said while these factors are important, she doesn’t think they represent Louisianans’ contentment.
“Though we rank low in a lot of policy things, we really rank high in culture,” Williamson said. “I think it’s important for a national database to talk to Louisianians before they make judgments based off of that.”
On another note, Louisiana ranked relatively high in affordability, 16th in cost of living and 20th in housing affordability. Louisiana also has the lowest electricity prices comparative to every other state.