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Maryland, Virginia make Top 10 in US News Best States list

Maryland and Virginia did well in U.S. News' Best States list. (Getty Images)

The folks at U.S. News & World Report have for years ranked states in categories such as health care, safety and more; for the third year, they’ve combined factors to pick the best states overall — and Virginia and Maryland came out near the top.

“Virginia moved up 13 spots from last year to No. 7, and Maryland moved up seven spots to No. 6,” said Tim Smart, the executive editor at U.S. News. “So they’re both in the Top 10 states for the first time.”

D.C., not being a state, wasn’t ranked.

The list was compiled through a combination of public and private data in a variety of categories, weighted based on surveys conducted by U.S. News on what people felt were the most important issues.

You can see the whole list, along with analysis and the methodology, at U.S. News and World Report.

The categories included health care, which comprised access, quality and public health; education; the economy; infrastructure, which included energy, internet access and transportation; opportunity, which comprised affordability, economic opportunity and equality; fiscal stability; crime, and the natural environment.

Some of the best results for the area:

Virginia

  • Ninth in Crime and Corrections;
  • Seventh in Education;
  • Eighth in Fiscal Stability;
  • Ninth in Opportunity.

Maryland

  • Eighth in Health Care;
  • Fifth in Opportunity.

The two states didn’t rack up spectacular results in any category, but ranked highly in general, which Smart said worked out better: “If you do reasonably well across the board, you’re going to come out better than if you have highs and lows.”

Washington state topped the list for the first time, and while the state has some obvious advantages such as the presence of tech giants Amazon and Microsoft, Smart said the state had a secret reason for its success: “an abundance of relatively inexpensive energy,” owing to the state’s hydropower and wind energy industries.

The big change in the methodology this year was the introduction of the Natural Environment category, which previously had been combined with a Social Environment subcategory. “And that benefited certain states,” Smart said, including Virginia, which came in at No. 18 in the category.

Virginia and Maryland were the only new arrivals in the Top 10; overall, the list was rather stable, in many categories using three-year averages of data to make the lists.

Some of the other highlights from the data, as measured by U.S. News:

  • Only 27% of respondents generally agree their state is doing all it can to help residents prosper.
  • 23% of roads nationwide are considered to be in poor condition and 9% of bridges are considered to be structurally deficient.
  • Most people (52%) are generally dissatisfied about the quality of education in their state; 48% are dissatisfied about the quality of infrastructure, and 42% are dissatisfied about the quality of health care. Those were the same top three areas that a majority of respondents said were the most underfunded by state governments.

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