The rankings draw on more than 70 metrics in eight main categories such as health care, education, economy, infrastructure; some measures are weighted based on what people said matters most to them. "Health care and education were weighted most heavily," U.S. News says. "Then came state economies, infrastructure, and the opportunity states offer their citizens. Fiscal stability followed closely in weighting, followed by measures of crime & corrections and a state's natural environment.
"At a time when the federal government is attempting to hand more responsibility for spending and policymaking to the states, these rankings offer the first comprehensive view, state by state, of how some states already are performing best," the report says. "This highly interactive platform enables users to explore thousands of important benchmarks and easily draw state-to-state comparisons. Build a chart, share it, and ultimately learn what all the states can learn from one another."