For the second year in a row, Louisiana is the worst state in the country, according to a national analysis based on health care, education, infrastructure, crime and other quality-of-life measures.
U.S. News & World Report, known for annual education, health care and other consumer-focused rankings, released its second annual "Best States" list Tuesday -- a feature launched last year as part of a data-driven interactive platform designed to provide insight into how states stack up on various issues.
Louisiana received low marks across individual rankings on crime and corrections (48), economy (44), education (49), fiscal stability (48), health care (47), infrastructure (44), opportunity (50) and quality of life (42).
Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia and Alabama rounded out the bottom of the list.
At the top of the latest "Best States" list: Iowa, Minnesota, Utah, North Dakota and New Hampshire.
"In evaluating the best states in the nation, we have combined trusted, high-quality data with the power of journalism to fill the current gap in local reporting, and ultimately to empower citizens, business leaders and policymakers to engage in improving their states," Eric Gertler, chairman of U.S. News & World Report, said in a news release.
But Shauna Sanford, a spokeswoman for Gov. John Bel Edwards, said the latest ranking "does a disservice to Louisiana by using grossly outdated information that in no way accurately reflects the current gains being made throughout our state, especially in the areas of health care and education."
"The metrics used to compile this report date as far back as seven years when it comes to education and do not take into account the significant improvements the state has made in many important areas," she said. "Unfortunately, this is a recurring problem with this report which has previously used data a decade old in ranking our state.
Louisiana is the worst state in the country, according to a new analysis based on health care, education, infrastructure, crime and other quality-of-life measures...
U.S. News based its rankings largely on federal government data, including the U.S. Census, National Center for Education Statistics, the FBI and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Other sources included ACT, Moody's investors service and regional research centers. The data was weighted based on a nation-wide survey of which issues Americans find most important to their quality of life.
Sanford cited the omission of data that reflects state's expansion of the Medicaid program, which took effect in 2016 after Edwards took office, as a major oversight in the report. More than 470,000 Louisiana residents have gained health care coverage through the expanded program.
Sanford said that the report also doesn't factor in the stabilization of higher education funding, which was deeply slashed in the years before Edwards took office.
"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.