It’s been a winning year for the Bay State.
U.S. News and World Report awarded Massachusetts its top honor, citing the Commonwealth’s continuing academic achievement, innovative health care system, and strong economy in its ‘Best States’ ranking. The report evaluates each of the fifty states across seven categories: health care, education, opportunity, economy, infrastructure, crime and corrections, and government. Massachusetts ranked No. 1 in education and No. 2 in healthcare, and placed within the top ten for economy and crime and corrections.
“Massachusetts is a great place to live, work and raise a family because of the strength and character of all those who call the Commonwealth home,” Governor Charlie Baker said in a release. “Everyone should be proud that Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in health care access and public education for all citizens, and our administration will continue to build on these accomplishments to bring more economic success to every corner of Massachusetts.”
Baker discussed the report on CBS Tuesday.
Home to some of the nation’s top public and charter schools, Massachusetts has topped many state education rankings over the last several years. A statistic worth noting is the performance of eighth grade students: Bay State eighth graders are No. 1 in math and No. 2 in reading nationally.
Almost half of Massachusetts residents have a college degree, and the state boasts an 86 percent high school graduation, according to the report.
The report also highlights health care accessibility across the Commonwealth. While Massachusetts ranks No. 2 in overall health care, it earns top marks in access to health care. Massachusetts has the lowest rate of uninsured residents in the United States.
“Massachusetts has passed health-care reform laws in every legislative session since 2006 and is a national leader in delivering innovative and high-quality health care,” Dr. Stuart H. Altman, health economist and chair of the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, told U.S. News & World Report.
In fact, the federal Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in Congress in 2010, was modeled after the Massachusetts’ near-universal health care plan outlined in Chapter 58 of the Acts of 2006, according to Altman.
The Commonwealth’s modernizing economy continues to thrive as well, the report says. At 2.9 percent, Massachusetts’ unemployment rate is well below the 4.7 percent national average, and the state earned a No. 4 national ranking for jobs.
“Over the past two years we’ve added 120,000 jobs. Today more people are working than at any time in the past 20 years. And our welfare caseload has dropped 25 percent,” Gov. Charlie Baker said in his second State of the Commonwealth address in January. “The companies of the future are moving to Massachusetts, bringing millions in private investment. While new companies are born here every day.”
Massachusetts has the second-best business environment and patent creation in the country, falling only behind California. Both start-ups and established companies – like new Boston resident General Electric – can succeed in the Bay State’s prosperous business climate, according to the report.
While the state earns high marks overall, there is still room for improvement in a number of areas. Massachusetts ranks fifth for gender equality in the workplace and sixth in overall median household income.
U.S. News and World also notes issues in Massachusetts’ infrastructure–the Commonwealth ranks 45th in transportation and 47th for average commute time. This aligns with findings from another report, which identifies the MBTA as leading the nation in light-rail derailments.
However, as sports championships continue to pour in, all signs point to continued growth and a promising future the Commonwealth.