How does Illinois rank in performing for its residents?

Kevin HoffmanReboot Illinois

Mar 01, 2017

When you consider all the problems facing Illinois, it’s probably safe to assume most Illinoisans would agree our state’s overall performance is paltry, to say the least.

But just how bad is the Land of Lincoln’s performance in some of the most important aspects of our lives? U.S. News & World Report attempts to answer that question with a new and comprehensive ranking that measures how well states are performing for their residents and how they compare to one another.

Thousands of data points were used to come up with 68 metrics to gauge a state’s strength and weaknesses across seven broad categories: health care, education, crime and corrections, infrastructure, opportunity, economy and government.

Brian Kelly, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News, said it’s not just another ranking, but also a platform for reporting on news, trends and developments in each state.

“We pay too much attention to Washington, and not enough to the states,” Kelly was quoted as saying in an article accompanied with the ranking. “And yet, you look at the states and all of the issues we talk about in broad strokes are playing out there – education and health care and crime, the economy and jobs.”

Illinois ranked in the bottom half of the 50 states with an overall rank of 29, but it was deemed the 10th best state for infrastructure thanks in large part to high marks for public transit, power grid reliability and fast internet download speeds.

The other better-than-average ranking for Illinois was the opportunity category, which ranked 19th nationally and takes into account economic opportunity, equality and affordability. And despite being one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to state share of public education funding and the formula by which schools are funded, Illinois ranked No. 20 for education.

The areas in which Illinois’ performance ranked near the bottom of the barrel were — and not much of surprise here — the economy (44th) and state government (47th).

When looking at the metrics used to determine Illinois’ economic rank, remember our state has the nation’s fifth-largest economy. GDP growth ranked 39th and net migration as a percentage of total population was the third-worst in the country. Census data released in December showed Illinois lost more than 37,500 residents between July 2015 and July 2016 — the largest population decline of any state.

Perhaps one of the most surprising findings from these rankings is that the rank for state government performance wasn’t dead last —New Jersey took that one — though the fiscal stability metric included in the category was the worst in Illinois.

Looking at our neighboring states, Iowa (6), Wisconsin (16) and Indiana (22) received higher overall ranks, while Michigan (33), Missouri (37) and Kentucky (42) were found to be worse than Illinois at performing for their residents in the seven key issues.

U.S. News deemed Massachusetts as the best state in the nation, which ranked first in education and second in health care. Rounding out the Top 5 best states were New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington.

The worst state in the nation was Louisiana, followed by Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and New Mexico, respectively.

Here’s how Illinois fared in the seven categories along with national ranks in parentheses.

Health care (32)

  • Health care access (21)
  • Public health (30)
  • Health care quality (42)

Education (20)

  • Higher education (35)
  • PreK-12 (10)

Crime and corrections (29)

  • Corrections (46)
  • Public safety (21)

Infrastructure (10)

  • Transportation (21)
  • Energy (19)
  • Internet access (14)

Opportunity (19)

  • Economic opportunity (23)
  • Equality (21)
  • Affordability (21)

Economy (44)

  • Growth (46)
  • Employment (39)
  • Business environment (20)

Government (47)

  • Fiscal stability (50)
  • Government digitalization (11)
  • Budget transparency (13)
  • State integrity (7)

You can find the full ranking and the various metrics included here. 

Related: No candy in Springfield for Rahm Emanuel in this cartoon
Nov 01, 2015

For more on today’s cartoon, visit Scott Stantis’ blog, Taking a Stantis. Click to enlarge. Editor’s note: Today’s cartoon accompanied the Chicago Tribune’s Sunday, Nov. 1, editorial headlined, “Gov. Rauner,…

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