Is Wisconsin the Best State? Read on for the Answer, Which Is "No"

Mike Paulus

US News has released its annual ranking of US states based on a dumptruck load of data. They rank all 50 hunks of the Union in seven subcategories (and more than five dozen sub-subcategories) and then use those rankings to produce an overarching MEGA RANK (my own term). All of this data indicates how well a state is “performing for its citizens.”

The main subcategories are Health Care, Education, Crime and Corrections, Infrastructure, Opportunity, Economy, and Government. Scores in Health Care and Education weigh more heavily in the MEGA RANK because they tend to have the greatest impact on our daily lives.

And where did this data come from? According to US News, “The data driving these rankings were drawn from extensive and reliable governmental and private sources as well as proprietary data including a national survey of what matters most to citizens around the country.” (Their methodology actually seems pretty comprehensive. Scroll down.)

But What About Us?

Wisconsin didn’t fair too bad in this year’s poll. The data doctors at US News put us at #16 overall, just ahead of a tiny state called “New York.” Our best sub-ranking was in Government (#5) while our worst was in Infrastructure (#37). Check it out ...

Wisconsin - #16

Health Care - #21
Education - #17
Crime and Corrections - #10
Infrastructure - #37
Opportunity - #14
Economy - #35
Government - #5

Minnesota, meanwhile received fantastic scores, coming in at #3 overall. You'll find Illinois at #29 and Michigan at #33. Massachusetts took #1 (tops in Health Care and Education) while Louisiana took #50. 

Go ahead and check out all of Wisconsin's sub-rankings and sub-sub-rankings right here, along with a big ol' writeup with lots of state history. Takeaways ...

Wisconsin's Deep Data Takeaways

Find these rankings and a whole lot more here.

#1 in Child Wellness Visits but #50 in Child Dental Visits
#3 in High School Graduation Rate and #1 in Pre-K Quality
#1 in Low Prison Overpopulation
#47 for Equality in Juvenile Jailing
#49 in Road Quality
#1 in Power Grid Reliability
#23 in Households with Internet Access
#5 in Low Food Insecurity
#48 in Employment Equality by Race
#43 in Racial Gap in Income
#47 in Growth of Young Population
#16 in Low Unemployment Rate
#6 in Government Budget Transparency

• US News mentions how we are the home of the "Butterburger" and "Cheeseheads.” Multiple times.

• “This state of 5.8 million people is 87 percent white, 7 percent black, 3 percent of Asian descent – with 7 percent identifying as Hispanic.”

• “The state’s median household income, $55,638, in 2015, was close to the national average. Its unemployment rate ran at just over 4 percent, below the national average.”

• “Three of the state’s five largest industrial sectors are related to paper and printing. And among the 37 largest enterprises, 36 are in manufacturing such as electrical equipment-making ... Aware of this reliance on traditional manufacturing, the state is exploring new development.”

• “The state ranks first in cheese-making – cheddar, American and Muenster in particular – and cranberries, snap beans and corn for silage.”

• “More than a quarter of Wisconsin adults have bachelor’s degrees or higher. In addition to 13 four-year campuses of the University of Wisconsin, the state is home to many private colleges.”

• “The majority of the state’s adults are Protestants, with Catholics accounting for about 25 percent – though fewer than half say religion represents a very important part of their lives.”

• “The state has maintained an independent streak, splitting its vote between Republicans and Democrats for president for much of the 20th century. After supporting Democrats since 1988, Wisconsin became one of the long Democratic-leaning Midwestern states that gave Republican Donald Trump his 2016 edge in the Electoral College.”