North Dakota, Minnesota top states for quality of life, according to magazine's rankings

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BISMARCK, N.D. (Valley News Live/WCCO) -- North Dakota and Minnesota offer the good life, according to U.S. News & World Report’s Best States rankings.

North Dakota offers the best quality of life in the country and ranks fourth overall among the best states.

Minnesota, which ranks second in quality of life, comes in second overall.

This is the first year the magazine’s annual rankings have included a quality-of-life category.

North Dakota also ranks first in four metrics -- growth of young population, labor force participation, low food insecurity and budget balancing -- and comes in second in infrastructure and fiscal stability.

Minnesota finished third in opportunity, labor force participation and low incarceration rate.

“Thanks to U.S. News & World Report for reinforcing what the people who live and visit here already know: North Dakotans enjoy an unmatched quality of life, with abundant natural resources, endless recreational opportunities and hardworking citizens who make this the best place to live, work and a raise a family,” Gov. Doug Burgum said.

“We’re committed to creating an environment that encourages entrepreneurship and innovation and helping communities reach their fullest potential to make our state an even more vibrant, healthy place to live,” Burgum added.

Rounding out the top five states overall are No. 1 Iowa, No. 3 Utah and No. 5 New Hampshire. Wisconsin ranks 11th overall, and South Dakota comes in at No. 14.

The magazine said North Dakota boasts some of the nation’s best roads and short-term finances, as well as one of the highest voter participation rates and strong social and natural environments.

“The state's small towns promote a positive social environment in which people are not only supportive of one another, but they are able to engage in their communities and feel that they are making a difference,” the magazine said, adding: “Despite a rapid growth in North Dakota's energy sector over recent years, the state still has some of the best air quality in the nation.”

U.S. News & World Report evaluated states across 77 metrics to create the Best States rankings, based on tens of thousands of data points provided by McKinsey & Co.’s Leading States Index.

In determining the weights of the eight categories in the rankings, two years of data were used from McKinsey’s citizen experience survey, which asked more than 30,000 people to prioritize each subject in their state and provide levels of satisfaction with government services.

Health care and education remain the most highly weighted factors in the methodology, followed closely by the economy.