Kansas is the 10th best state in the nation for making a living, according to MoneyRates.com. The website bases its annual rankings on cost of living, state tax burdens, median wages, unemployment rates, and workplace safety.
Analysts used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the American Tax Foundation, the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index to rank the states in each area.
According to the website, Kansas’ biggest strength is affordability. The Sunflower State boasts the eighth lowest cost of living of any state.
“States with low costs of living sometimes have struggling economies, but that does not appear to be the case in Kansas because the unemployment rate of 3.8 percent is below the national average,” Richard Barrington, a financial analyst for MoneyRates, writes.
Neighboring states Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri ranked 11th, 17th and 19th.
Washington state ranked highest, in part, due to its high median wage. The state’s employment rate and workplace safety also received high marks, but living expenses are about 7 percent higher in Washington than other states.
Minnesota, Illinois, Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan round out the top 10.
Hawaii is the worst place to make a living, according to the analysis.
“There are some areas where it’s not low wages that drag down the standard of living but expenses that drain savings accounts, as cost of living and/or state income tax rates are much higher than the national average,” Barrington writes.
That’s the case in Hawaii where the cost of living and high taxes are a drag on paychecks.
“While Hawaii has the tenth-highest median wage of any state, that is not enough to compensate for living expenses that are about two-thirds higher than the rest of the nation,” Barrington writes. “That problem is compounded by the third highest state income tax burden.”
California’s high taxation, higher-than-average unemployment rates, and high cost of living earned it a second-worst ranking. Montana, West Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, South Carolina, Maine, New York, and Mississippi round out worst 10 states to make a living.
Barrington says the difference between the best and worse states could have a meaningful impact on long-term finances and career.
“Thing about the lists the next time you consider what a fresh start somewhere else might do for your future,” he writes.