Many of us in the U.S. take pride in our home state or the state in which we currently reside. After all, we’re not likely to move to a state we absolutely despise unless a job opportunity outweighs the negatives. And trust us, each state certainly has its negatives. From preventable hospitalizations and the smallest increase in newborn life expectancy to dismal unemployment rates and a future $223 million going towards preventing rising sea level damage, we’re shining a light on some of the darkest state statistics. The map helped us identify regions of the U.S. with the worst health as well as which side of the nation, East versus West, faces similar issues.
View The Worst Statistic About Your State in a full screen map
Take a look at the map above for the different categories of negative state statistics including natural disasters, environmental negatives, and crime levels. Then read on for the fascinating trends you can pull from the data.
Using the map grouping feature to group by health, it’s clear the South’s health struggles rise to the top. Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia all face health-related concerns serious enough to be considered the worst fact about these Southern states.
|Alabama||Alabama has fewer than 85 mental health providers per 100,000 people, the least of any state and well below the national average of 212.8 mental health providers per 100,000 people.|
|Arkansas||Nearly a quarter of state adults report having fair or poor health, compared to 16.0% of Americans.|
|Kentucky||Preventable hospitalizations are a sign of poor health habits and a suboptimal medical system. Kentucky has an estimated 76.56 preventable hospitalizations per 100,000 Medicare enrollees, the highest of any state.|
|Oklahoma||Between 1980 and 2014, life expectancy at birth improved by only 3.4 years in Oklahoma, the smallest improvement of any state and less than half the 7.2 year national increase.|
|South Carolina||Just 54.2% of South Carolina residents have access to places for physical activity like park parks and recreation centers, the smallest share of any state.|
|Tennessee||According to the CDC, 9.8% of Tennessee adults have a major cardiovascular disease of some kind, compared to the national prevalence of 6.9%.|
|Texas||In Texas, 17.3% of the population lacks health insurance, the highest uninsured rate of any state.|
|West Virginia||West Virginia’s 35.5% adult obesity rate is the highest of any state. The national obesity rate is 28.0%.|
South Dakota and Montana also make an appearance on the map when you group by health issues. South Dakota’s government spent just $1,022 per capita on health in the most recent fiscal year, the lowest of any U.S. state. In fact, New Mexico spends over three times as much as South Dakota on health. Plus, the national average for state health spending is $1,884 per capita.
As for Montana, the state has the highest suicide rate of any state at 26 incidents per 100,000 people. And while rising suicide rates aren’t new, between 1999 and 2016 Montana saw a 38% increase in suicides. To put it in perspective, the national average increased by 25%. The National Alliance on Mental Montana’s executive director suspects the state’s high suicide rate is because of Montana’s particular residential makeup. Many gun owners, Native Americans, and military veterans call Montana home. Unfortunately, these folks are at high risk of suicide. Additionally, as is the case in Alabama, Montana doesn’t have enough mental health care providers for their population and Montana recently faced further mental-health budget cuts. This seems counterintuitive since Montana’s residential makeup and ruralness resulting in geographic isolation, high rate of heavy alcohol consumption, and lack of daylight during the winter are all linked to depression.
It appears that more than other region, the Eastern United States struggles financially. If you group the map by finances, the right side of the nation including Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Mississippi, New York, and Virginia all light up with a financial-related issue. For example, both Connecticut and Illinois struggle with debt. The average credit card debt in Connecticut is $7,258, the highest of any of the mainland U.S. states. Illinois also has a history of debt. In fact, Illinois’s debt is so serious that the state itself is at risk of a financial crisis or even bankruptcy. In its most recent fiscal year, the state had $244.9 billion in obligations and just $28.8 billion in assets.
When it comes to real estate, Indiana has something in common with the only non-Eastern state struggling financially: Hawaii. The cost of living in Hawaii is 18.4% higher than the average cost of living nationwide. Indiana’s real estate dilemma? Its home values. Indiana homes are some of the least
valuable in the nation as most are worth
less than $142,000. The typical home
nationwide is worth $217,600.
The Eastern United States battles another bad trend or two. If you group the map by both environment and transportation, it’s apparent the East also has trouble with these categories. Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Ohio all face environmental issues. Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Rhode Island struggle with roadside transportation.
Environmentally-speaking, just 2.4% of Delaware’s energy comes from renewable sources, one of the lowest shares of any U.S. state. Nationally, 11.7% of energy production comes from renewable non-hydro sources. New Jersey is one of the least environmentally friendly states as nearly all residents live in high ozone areas. Air high in ozone can be harmful to health. Maybe New Jersey should also be classified as an Eastern state that is not ideal for those seeking optimal health. Also not great for health: the air pollution problem in Ohio. The average daily concentration of PM2.5, a harmful substance, is the highest concentration of any state. Lastly, North Carolina has over 300 miles of coastline that is susceptible to damage from rising sea levels. By some estimates, rising sea levels could cost $223 million per year by 2080 in southern North Carolina alone.
As for transportation, 48.7% of Marylanders drive to work by themselves for more than 30 minutes each day, the highest of any state. We too noted this on our map of the U.S. city commute times. But it’s not too shocking Maryland has such a high solo commuter rate. This can be attributed to Washington D.C.’s infamous gridlock. On the other hand, residents of Pennsylvania likely opt out of driving as often since Pennsylvania has the highest gas tax. And we hear the roads in Rhode Island are pretty beat up.
So what do the Western states even struggle with? Unlike when we found that the West faces the most extreme high and low temperatures in the U.S. and the most NBA finals wins per team and opportunity, we don’t see many trends with the worst state statistics in the West. However, that doesn’t mean these states don’t have negatives. Washington and California face weather and natural disaster-related problems. Arizona and Colorado both have serious racial disparities they need to address. There are also a couple of Western states with negative lifestyle-related facts. Take Nevada’s sky-high divorce rate for example — though, who doesn’t get married and subsequently divorced in Vegas nowadays? Further lifestyle negatives include Utah’s lack of social spaces and Idaho’s lack of children in preschool. Other Western state stats: New Mexico’s got lots of crime while Oregonians and North Dakotans love their drugs. We guess the West’s trend is that they don’t have any trends.
Once you recover from seeing the worst statistic about your state laid out clearly on a map, check out some more popular maps related to the worst statistic categories like how to map local crime data online, different drinking ages around the world on a map, or the most disastrous natural disasters mapped. Then, make a map of your own. Just enter the spreadsheet information you want mapped into our data-mapping tool and you too can delve into the world of insight opportunities.