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Millcreek Journal

Utah named 2024 best state in America, per new report

Jun 03, 2024 11:16AM ● By Bailey Chism

Ensign Peak overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. (Bailey Chism/City Journals)

From the numerous mountain ranges to The Mighty 5 national parks to other sites such as The Great Salt Lake, Utah is known for its stunning scenery. 

For the second straight year, Utah has been named the best state in America by U.S. News & World Report.

USNWR ranked all 50 states in the union on a range of categories, including healthcare, education, economy, infrastructure, crime and corrections and natural environment, among others. Utah topped the rankings in 2023, overtaking Washington State, and has held on for the second year. 

Utah consistently ranked among the top in the nation in USNWR’s rankings, earning top 20 results in seven of the eight categories and top 15 in six categories. 

On USNWR’s website, Ben Blau, head of the department of Economics and Finance at Utah State University’s Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, said it’s not just the diverse outdoor offerings that make the Beehive State a great place to live. It’s people who also make Utah special. 

Many Utahns have opportunities to thrive in different aspects of life due to the state’s varied strengths. It’s that consistency and well-rounded nature that allowed Utah to take hold of that No. 1 spot for the second consecutive year. 

But USNWR said “best” doesn’t necessarily mean “perfect.” While Utah ranked No. 1 overall across the union, it underperformed in the natural environment category—a low No. 46. USNWR also said many of the top-ranking states are also not very racially diverse and had several disparities including by gender, race and disability.

“We have been doing reports for 14 years now,” said Susan Madsen, a professor at Utah State University and founding director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project. “And we do rank as the worst state for women's equality, and I have done so now for nine years on the WalletHub ranking.”

Some in the state are trying to change things for the better. The Utah Women and Leadership project effort “A Bolder Way Forward” aims to “help more Utah women and girls thrive” by focusing on 18 areas where “change needs to occur,” ranging from entrepreneurship and the gender pay gap to domestic violence and sexual harassment. Teams and leaders focused on such areas have set data-centered goals targeting improvement by 2026 and 2030. 

“We've been slowly working on these topics for years and we need to kick it into gear because it comes at the rate we're going, it's going to take three to four decades to make notable progress,” Madsen said. 

Madsen said the “A Bolder Way Forward” project is a unique model to pull together all of the organizations and individuals and nonprofits and universities to work together and more of a systems thinking model to shift things together instead of just everybody doing their part or piece.

“Let's make Utah a safer place for women in a place where more girls and women can thrive and that that actually means that more families thrive,” Madsen said. λ