Ryan Holeywell is a staff writer at GOVERNING.E-mail: email@example.com
Just about every news outlet thrives on releasing a never-ending stream of rankings of cities and states. The trend is best exemplified by Forbes, which has told us that Utah is the best state for business, Texas is the top state for jobs, and Vermont is the healthiest state.
But one study offers the grandaddy of all state rankings system: the Camelot Index.
The annual report appears this week in State Policy Reports, a newsletter published by Federal Funds Information for States, which tracks federal budget and spending information for state leaders.
As FFIS writes, the index is "based on the premise that most people share a common set of preferences: fewer taxes are better than more, small class sizes are better than large, low death rates are better than high, less crime is better than more and so on."
The index contains 25 different metrics that are used to analyze states in six different categories that are weighted equally: economic health, residents' health, education, crime, state government prudence, and the health of society -- with includes factors like home ownership and voting rates.
A state that performed better than all others in every category would have an index score of 1, and a state that was the worst in all categories would have an index of 50.
Rounding out the top five are South Dakota, New Hampshire, Nebraska and Wyoming.
The authors note that the states with the highest scores are among the least populated states in the country, and large numbers of people are not choosing to live there.
Louisiana has the lowest score of 41.0, largely due to poor marks for residents' health and crime rates. Oklahoma has made the most progress in recent years, advancing 11 slots in the aggregate ranking since 2007.
The authors also note that, given North Dakota's score, it's clear that no state is near perfect.
Note: A previous version of this article contained slightly different index figures due to an error in FFIS's initial report. FFIS has corrected its study, and this article reflects its updated numbers.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.