Utah ranked the No. 1 overall state by US News and World Report

Planes are pictured at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Utah has remained the top state overall in the nation, according to the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking.

Planes are pictured at Salt Lake City International Airport in Salt Lake City on Saturday. Utah has remained the top state overall in the nation, according to the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — As one of the fastest-growing states in the country, Utah has proven year after year that it can sustain its increasing population.

According to the latest U.S. News and World Report ranking, the Beehive State has remained at the top. The study focused on over 70 metrics and thousands of data points to determine which states best serve their residents.

"Utah has a vibrant, diverse economy and unsurpassed natural beauty, but what truly sets our state apart is our people," said Utah Gov. Spencer Cox in a press release about the new ranking.

"We lead the nation in volunteering and charitable giving every year and this spirit of community leads to a collaborative approach to problem solving, an ecosystem that supports innovation, and a culture that strengthens families and individuals. I'm proud of the Beehive State and appreciate the validation that Utah really is the best state in the nation," Cox said.

Utah ranked in the Top 20 in seven of the eight categories. It ranked in the Top 3 in these three categories: education (second place), economy (third place); and infrastructure (third place).

These are the 2024 Top 5 best states overall in the ranking:

  1. Utah
  2. New Hampshire
  3. Nebraska
  4. Minnesota
  5. Idaho

Other categories involved in the ranking of the states included crime, health care, natural environment, fiscal stability, infrastructure and opportunity.

Utah's top rankings

Regarding economic rankings, Utah fell from the top of the list to third overall. "It's important to acknowledge that a No. 3 ranking isn't a bad ranking," Phil Dean, chief economist at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, told the Deseret News.

One aspect of this is "We have seen some moderation in our job growth rates. I think some of that is related to the tech sector or some of the financial service sector, where we have a stronger presence than the rest of the U.S. economy," Dean added. "Those sectors are sensitive to interest rates, and with higher interest rates, we see impacts there. That being said, that's not true for the entire economy. So we're seeing portions of our economy where we're seeing flatter growth, or even a little bit of decline, where most of the economy is still growing quite well."

Dean said Utah's large population of young people is also a big benefit to Utah's economy. "We're feeling the impacts of baby boomer retirements here in Utah, but it impacts us less than other states. Our diverse economy certainly helps us."

Dean emphasized that something unique to Utah is the ability to think about the greater good rather than allowing a political divide to influence decisions.

"You know, looking at an NHL announcement downtown and looking at people from a bunch of different groups throughout the state that were represented, that kind of shows this ability that we have, as a state, to come together still," he said. "We may disagree, but if possible, we'll try to work toward a win-win solution."

Although Utah has the second-most national parks, behind only California, its worst ranking was in the natural environment category. Sitting in 46th place, the state does not prioritize government policies geared toward environmental initiatives related to public health, according to U.S. News.

As many as 131.2 million people in the U.S. live where the air quality gets failing grades due to too-high levels of ozone or particle pollution, the 2024 "State of the Air" report from the American Lung Association found, and Utah is no exception.

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