March 1, 2017 | Number of The Day

“U.S. News and World Report,” which brought the country those rankings of the “best” colleges, recently released a ranking of states based on education, healthcare, crime, infrastructure, government, opportunity, and economy. New Jersey came in at 14 (Massachusetts was first) in an analysis that had the Garden State ranked very high in some categories and extremely low in others.

First the good news: New Jersey was rated 2 in terms of education. That was largely on the strength of its pre-K-12 program, which scored a 2. It scored well on preschool enrollment (1), high school graduation rate (3), and national test scores (4 for math, 5 for reading.) New Jersey scored 12th in college readiness. It did less well in higher education, in which that state ranked 28th, primarily due to its high tuition and fees.

New Jersey also scored well in crime (4 overall); 5 in public safety and scored 16 for corrections.
The state earned an 8 for healthcare, primarily due to good public health indicators (low rates of smoking, suicide, mortality, infant mortality, mental health problems, and obesity). Healthcare access (17) and quality (20) were less encouraging.

Now for the bad news: It might not come as much of a surprise to readers or voters, but New Jersey scored dead last (50) for its government. It earned very poor ratings for fiscal stability in general (49), due to problems balancing the budget, as well as credit rating and pension-fund liabilities. It didn’t perform all that much better in government digitalization (43). The state was also knocked for a lack of budget transparency (29). Still, despite its reputation and last year’s Bridgegate trial, the government scored best for state integrity – 18.

New Jersey also had a few middling ratings.

In the category of infrastructure, it earned an 18, mostly due to public-transit usage and nearly ubiquitous Internet access. It scored poorly in the energy category, due to high electricity prices and low renewable-energy usage.

The economy was ranked 25, right smack in the middle. The business environment earned a 12, due to its high rate of patent creation (12) and entrepreneurship (16). But when it came to growth (37) and employment (28) it ranked less well.

Opportunity was another area in which New Jersey scored near the middle (27). Despite a high household income (4) and low poverty rate (8), New Jersey earned a 40 in affordability and a 27 in equality.