A new report and analysis focusing on four “impact areas” of daily life – opportunity, economy, education and community - has determined that Connecticut exceeds the national average in each category, by at least five percentage points and as much as nearly seven. Overall, the state ranked 13th in the U.S., with a score of 56.9 out of 100 in the study's index, designed to measure economic, academic, civic and other key factors. The state ranked 10th a year ago, and is the only state to fall out of the top 10.
The top 10 states in the latest analysis are Vermont, Minnesota, North Dakota, New Hampshire, Nebraska, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Jersey, South Dakota and Maryland. In addition to Connecticut, three other states (Montana, Oregon and Pennsylvania) dropped as many as three slots in the state-by-state rankings.
According to the report, developed by Measure of America and Opportunity Nation, Connecticut did better than the national average in mean household income, the number of banking institutions, and the percentage of households with high speed internet. The state also exceeded the national average in the percentage of 3- and 4-year olds attending preschool and the percentage of the population (age 25 and older) with an associate degree or higher. The unemployment rate in Connecticut was higher than the national average, but the percentage of the population with earnings below the poverty line was less than the average nationally.
Perhaps surprisingly, the percentage of students who graduate from high school on time (within four years) is below the national average – 75.1 percent in Connecticut as compared with 78.2 percent nationally.
The Opportunity Index focuses on the conditions present in different communities and is designed to connect economic, academic, civic and other factors together to help identify solutions to lagging conditions for opportunity and economic mobility. From preschool enrollment to income inequality, from volunteerism to access to healthy food, expanding opportunity depends on the intersection of multiple factors, Opportunity Nation's website explains. The Index is designed to provide policymakers and community leaders with a powerful tool to advance opportunity-related issues and work, advocate for positive change and track progress over time.
In the area of community health and civic life, the level of volunteerism among Connecticut residents exceeds the national average, as does the number of primary care providers (per 100,000 population) and the percentage of adults who are involved in social, civic, sports and religious groups. Violent crime is below the national average and the percentage of youth, ages 16-24, not in school and not working is also below the national average, at 12.3 percent as compared with 14.6 percent nationwide.
Nationally, almost 6 million young people are neither in school nor working, according to the study - almost 15 percent of those aged 16 to 24 nationwide who are neither employed or in school, the Associated Press reported. In Connecticut, 12.3 percent of those aged 16 to 24 are not working either at a job or in class, the study found.
The study also determined that 49 states have seen an increase in the number of families living in poverty and 45 states have seen household median incomes fall in the last year, the AP reported.