In a recently released report, US News & World Report has identified and ranked the nation’s best states. Founded in 1933 as a weekly news magazine, the publication shifted to publishing primarily online in 2010 and is known for its annual rankings of hospitals and colleges and universities. Using data compiled by the global management consulting firm, McKinsey & Company, US News & World Report ranked each state in the following broad categories: Health Care Quality, Education, Crime and Corrections, Infrastructure, Opportunity, Economy and Government. In all, 68 separate metrics were evaluated and compiled. Care to take a guess at where Iowa placed in the overall rankings?
If you said sixth overall out of 50 states, give yourself a pat on the back. Only Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington, states one through five on the list, topped the Hawkeye State. Iowa’s rankings in each of the seven areas is summarized in the following chart:


What kind of data was used to rank each state? US News & World Report says the data used comes from reliable governmental and private sources, and the weight assigned to each category was based on a survey that McKinsey conducted about what matters most to people. At this time, the two areas identified as most important to Americans are health care and education.
According to McKinsey’s Andre Dua, “What we’ve helped do is collect a wide range of data – a lot of data from publicly available sources. But we’ve also created our own proprietary data, particularly into how citizens view the performance of governments.”
Why should we care about state rankings? Beyond bragging rights, why should we care how Iowa compares to the rest of the nation? Managing Editor, Brian Kelly, said, “Viewed as a whole, a news analysis and rankings platform is designed to inform engaged citizens, business leaders and policymakers alike about what’s working and what needs improvement across the country.”
Assistant Managing Editor, Mark Silva, added, “In a union such as this, each state has something to learn from the others. Some have better health care, some better education, some more economic opportunity for their citizenry. Drawing any comparisons should be more than a matter of bragging rights. It requires clear-eyed measures to make real judgments.”
When it comes to solving the challenges that face society, be it at a local, state or national level, we can only hope that those entrusted with the responsibility of making policy will do so with an open mind and a willingness to learn from others.