National Beat Reporter
A recent study issued by the U.S. News and World Report ranked California No. 23 in the nation based on an aggregate score measuring economy, infrastructure, education, crime, and more.
The report, titled the “Best States Rankings,” utilized categories of measurement weighted based on what the public deemed most important.
Education and healthcare were the most heavily weighted categories, followed by economic opportunities offered to state citizens, crime and corrections, infrastructure, and government administration.
California, the most populous state and the largest state economy in the nation, is fixated at the somewhat-subpar slot of 23rd. How did the Golden State receive this dull status?
The highlights of California’s grading card were its economic accomplishments. The state received high marks for its economy, ranking third overall in the nation and second in its GDP growth, which reels in an average 3.3 percent increase each year.
Subcategories of this analysis highlighted California’s business environment, ranking it the best in the nation, with ranking first in patent creation and fourth in entrepreneurship.
California is a diverse hub of industry, from lucrative software companies in Silicon Valley to agricultural production in Napa wine country and the Central Valley to the glamorous entertainment industry in Southern California. This industrial diversity contrasts with the rest of the nation. In Texas, for example, “more than 60 percent of the largest publicly traded Texas firms are tied to oil and gas,” according to a column from the Bloomberg View.
But these gold stars were weighed down by California’s mixed rankings in healthcare, education, economic opportunity, and crime and corrections.
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law in 2010, had the biggest gains in California. As of 2015, a record-breaking 91 percent of Californians are now insured. Under this expansion, 13.6 million Californians are covered by Medi-Cal.
California’s healthcare system was ranked 10th in the nation, a score divvied up from equally weighted measurements of health care access, public health, and health care quality.
California’s public health scores were one of the best in the nation, reflecting California’s low rates in infant mortality, mortality, smoking, and obesity.
However, the state received lousy ratings in health care access and quality, ranking 24th and 16th respectively.
The relative nature of these rankings can explain such mediocre scores. Although California reached an all-time low of 8.5 percent of residents left uninsured, the No. 1 state in health insurance, Massachusetts, has less than three percent of uninsured residents.
Ranked 25th in the nation, California’s education is deemed average according to this study. The shining point of its education scorecard was the quality of higher education, ranked third in the nation. This report also highlights California’s relatively low debt at graduation; 55 percent of California students graduate with some form of debt, in comparison to the state of Idaho, which is at 72 percent.
The two-year and four-year college graduation rate rankings are within the top ten ballpark. However, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, the supply of college graduates is not on track to keep up with demand. As the baby-boomers reach retirement age, there will be a large number of workers with college degrees leaving the workforce. The younger generation is not graduating college at high enough rates “to close the skills gap,” according to the PPIC study.
In terms of rankings, California drops the ball in pre-K-12 education, putting the state at No. 42 in the nation. California is deemed one of the worst states in standardized math and reading scores, pre-K quality, and high school graduation rate.
Economic opportunity is California’s second worst ranking at 42nd, following its ranking at 44th in government. This study ranks California as one of the worst states in cost of living and housing affordability.
According to Investopedia, five out of the top 10 most expensive cities to live in the U.S. are in California. San Francisco, deemed the second most expensive city to live in, has an average rent of $3,920 a month among its pricier neighborhoods.
California received low marks in equal income distribution, education equality by race, and racial gap in income, highlighting the stark economic inequality amongst California residents.
A 2016 report issued by the Economic Policy Institute also examined the ratio between the richest and poorest in California.
According to the EPI’s study, the average income of the top one percent of Californians was $1,411,375, starkly contrasting with the average income of $48,899 among the bottom 99 percent. The ratio from the top to bottom earners in California is 28.9 to one.
Click here to view the full report of California’s rankings.