How Does Indiana Rate?
Various rankings of states and cities are constantly being released with the leaders bragging about their success and the losers complaining about the methodology. U.S. News and World Report has issued its first ever Ranking of the Best States and it reveals many of Indiana’s strengths and weaknesses.
This ranking utilized seven categories with 68 different metrics and relied on thousands of data points to measure how well states are performing for their citizens. The survey was developed by McKinsey & Company and can be found at usnews.com/news/best-states/ranking.
So how did Indiana do? We were in the top half overall at 22nd. When compared to our neighboring states were first or second in five of the seven categories. We were fourth in Health Care and Crime/Corrections compared to our contiguous states.
Indiana scored well in several areas, first in the Government category and fourth in Opportunity. However, we lagged behind in other categories, like health care where we placed 41st.
Each category was assigned a percentage to indicate its importance to the residents of the State. Health Care and Education were given the most weight with 18% and 16%, Crime and Corrections, Infrastructure and Opportunity were each 14%, Economy was 13% and Government was 10%.
Not surprisingly more than half of the top states in Health Care and Education ranked in the top 10 Best States. Massachusetts and New Hampshire were first and second in the overall rating and they scored 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in those two categories.
Indiana’s Number 1 rating in Government was assisted by a 1st in government credit rating, a 1st in budget transparency, a 5th in pension fund liability and a 6th in government digitalization.
Our 4th ranking in Opportunity was based on our high scores for equality in employment opportunities at 7th and our affordability rank of 4th for cost of living and housing affordability. Our score was lowered by being 35th in household income, 34th in employment equality by race and 30th in low food security.
Indiana still ranked in the top half for Infrastructure with a 20th. Our best metric was in energy 18th, then transportation 24th, and lowest in internet access 29th. The western states received 9 of the top 10 ratings in this category.
Indiana rated in the middle of the states in the categories for the Economy 26th and Education 27th. Growth counted for 50% of the economy ranking with employment at 30% and business environment at 20%. GDP growth at 15th and low unemployment rate at 17th were our best scores with entrepreneurship at 44th and net migration at 30th being our low marks.
Our education ranking reflected two different worlds. In the Pre-K through 12th grade metric Indiana ranked 11th. Our highest scores were in high school graduation rate at 7th and NAEP math scores at 11th. By far our worst rating in this category was preschool enrollment at 38th.
Higher education was our worst rating in the entire survey where we rated 47th. Our lowest scores were in 2 year college grad rate within three years at 50th and the education attainment measured as the % of Indiana residents with an Associate’s degree or higher where we ranked 41st.
Indiana ranked 33rd in crime and corrections. Most of the 8 metrics in this category rated Indiana from 25th to 36th. We were 1st in low prison overpopulation but that was meaningless since we tied with 27 other states whose prison population did not exceed 100% of the prison beds available.
Our lowest raking was in Health Care, the most important category in this study, with a weight of 18%. Overall we ranked 41st with Health Care Access at 33rd, Health Care Quality at 35th and Public Health at 42nd. Our Public Health score was low based on our historical problem with high infant mortality, high obesity, and high smoking rates.
So what does all of this mean? Indiana has areas of strength that we need to continue such as 1st in Government and 4th in Opportunity for our citizens. However, we need to take action to improve our health care delivery. Of the 15 metrics in this category only one was in the top half of the country, a 22nd for a low suicide rate. Additionally, we definitely need to focus on our low scores in the Higher Education category.