CT is 5th Healthiest State in USA; MA Ranks 1st, New Data Shows

Connecticut is the fifth healthiest state in the nation, dropping from third a year ago, but remaining in the nation’s top 10, where it has been every year since 1993. Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont, Utah and Connecticut rank as the five healthiest states, while West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi rank the least healthy.

The United Health Foundation ranked America's states based on a variety of health factors, such as rates of infectious diseases, obesity, physical inactivity, smoking and infant mortality, as well as air pollution levels and the availability of health care providers. The survey has been conducted annually for 28 years.

America’s Health Rankings was built upon the World Health Organization definition of health:“Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”

The model reflects that determinants of health directly influence health outcomes. A health outcomes category and four categories of health determinants are included in the model: behaviors, community & environment, policy and clinical care.

This is the first time Massachusetts has been named the healthiest state, ending Hawaii's five-year ranking at number one. Connecticut’s highest ranking was second, in both 2006 and 2008.

By category, Connecticut ranked fourth in Behaviors, fourth in Clinical Care, sixth in Policy, tenth in Health Outcomes and 15th in Community & Environment.  Connecticut had the third lowest levels of infectious disease, fourth lowest prevalence of smoking and ninth lowest levels of obesity.

The Bay State won the honor in part due to having the lowest percentage of uninsured residents at just 2.7% of the population, plus a low prevalence of obesity and a high number of mental health providers.  Rhode Island moved from 14th to 11th; New York from 13th to 10th

This latest report shows that the nation's health overall is getting worse.  The nation's premature death rate -- the number of years of potential life lost before age 75 -- increased 3% since 2015.  That increase is driven in part by drug deaths, which increased 7% during that time, and cardiovascular deaths, which went up 2%.  Overall, the United States ranks 27th in terms of life expectancy in a comparison of 35 countries, according to the report. Long-term challenges remain — including infant mortality and low birthweight. Cardiovascular deaths and drug deaths also increased.

Connecticut’s strengths, according to the report, include the state’s low prevalence of smoking, low violent crime rate and low percentage of uninsured people.  The state’s greatest challenges include a high drug death rate, high levels of air pollution and a large disparity in health status by educational attainment.

The report also identified the following highlights:

  • In the past year, primary care physicians increased 6%, from 197.8 to 209.4 per 100,000 population
  • In the past two years, children in poverty increased 33%, from 12.3% to 16.3% of children
  • In the past five years, cancer deaths decreased 3% ,from 179.0 to 173.7 deaths per 100,000 population
  • In the past three years, drug deaths increased 67%, from 11.0 to 18.4 deaths per 100,000 population
  • In the past five years, the percentage uninsured decreased 44%, from 9.9% to 5.5% of the population

America’s Best States to Live In: Connecticut Ranks Second

The only state that is a better place to live in than Connecticut is Massachusetts, according to a new survey of key data.  Connecticut was ranked second when the website 24/7 Wall St. reviewed three statewide social and economic measures — poverty rate, educational attainment, and life expectancy at birth — to rank each state’s living conditions.  Based on the data analyzed, the state’s motto could easily be “live long and prosper.” Massachusetts, home to one of the nation’s wealthiest and most highly educated populations, followed by neighboring Connecticut, lead the nation in quality of life. Mississippi, the poorest state in the country, trails the other 49 states.

Among the key stats for Connecticut:

  • 10-year population growth: 5.8% (10th lowest)
  • Unemployment rate: 5.1% (19th highest)
  • Poverty rate: 10.5% (6th lowest)
  • Life expectancy at birth: 80.4 years (2nd highest)

ct-2Quality of life in the United States is heavily dependent on financial status, the survey summary points out. As a consequence, the nation’s best states to live in often report very high incomes. With a median household income of $71,346 a year, fifth highest of all states, Connecticut is the second best state to live in and an especially good example of this pattern, the description of Connecticut’s ranking explains.

The publication notes that “While satisfactory living conditions are possible with low incomes, this is true only to a point. Once incomes fall below the poverty line, for example, financial constraints are far more likely to diminish quality of life.”

Rounding out the top five:  New Hampshire, Minnesota, and New Jersey.  At the bottom of the list: Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi.

Education levels are another major contributor to a community’s living conditions — not just as a basis of economic prosperity, but also as a component of an individual’s quality of life. Due in part to the greater access to high paying jobs that often require a college degree, incomes also tend to be higher in these states. In all of the 15 best states in which to live, the typical household earns more than the national median household income of $55,775, 24/7 Wall St. pointed out.ct-2nd

Like the vast majority of states on the higher end of the list, Connecticut is described as relatively safe. There were 219 violent crimes reported for every 100,000 state residents in 2015, among the lowest rates of all states, the survey stated.  Housing markets are also indicative of quality of living. A high median home value, for instance, frequently means high demand for housing in the area. Nationwide, the typical home is worth $194,500. In most of the 25 top states, the median home value far exceeds the nationwide median.

The survey did not take into account more subjective conditions such as climate preference, the presence of friends and family, and personal history.

To identify the best and worst states in which to live, 24/7 Wall St. devised an index composed of three socioeconomic measures for each state: poverty rate, the percentage of adults who have at least a bachelor’s degree, and life expectancy at birth. The selection of these three measures was inspired by the United Nations’ Human Development Index. Poverty rates and bachelor attainment rates came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 American Community Survey. Life expectancies at birth are from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are as of 2012, latest year for which data is available. Unemployment rates are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and are for October 2016, the most recent available month of data.

15 CT High Schools Among Nation’s Best for College Readiness

A total of 15 Connecticut public high schools made the list of the top 500 high schools in the nation, compiled by Newsweek magazine.  The top-ranked Connecticut school, Weston High School, ranked #47 in the U.S. and was the only school in the state to crack the top 50.  Also reaching the top 100 was Staples High School in Westport at #63. Three high schools were ranked between 100 and 200 on the national list – Ridgefield High School at #119, Connecticut IB Academy in East Hartford at #158, and Lyme-Old Lyme High School at #185.

The Newsweek High School Rankings—recognizing the achievements of the best public high schools in the United States for college readiness—have been published for more than a decade. The rankings were compiled using several metrics, including graduation rate, college enrollment rate, SAT and ACT scores, AP and IB scores and participation, teacher-student ratio and dropout rates.

Newsweek places an emphasis on criteria like college enrollment and graduation rate since “we know that those are some of the biggest indicators of whether students are prepared for college,” Newsweek officials said.  This year’s rankings were weighted by:0aedbf26799cf8087f8e3041633f6b4e6430abfb

  • Enrollment Rate—25 percent
  • Graduation Rate—20 percent
  • Weighted AP/IB/Dual Enrollment composite—17.5 percent
  • Weighted SAT/ACT composite—17.5 percent
  • Change in student enrollment between 9th-12th grades, to control for dropout rates—10 percent
  • Counselor-to-Student Ratio—10 percent

There are almost 30,000 public high schools in the United States.0806100thinking01

Also earning a spot among the top 10 Connecticut high schools on the list were Daniel Hand High School in Madison (#213), Simsbury High School (#273), Newtown High School (#308), Farmington High School (#312), and Woodstock Academy (#337).

The top high schools in the United States, according to Newsweek, are Thomas Jefferson High (Alexandria, VA), High Technology High School (Lincroft, NJ) and Academy for Mathematics Science and Engineering (Rockaway, NJ).

Newsweek also publishes a second list, called “Beating the Odds” which seeks to identify schools that do an excellent job of preparing their students for college while also overcoming the obstacles posed by students at an economic disadvantage.  Three Connecticut schools reached that list of top schools – Connecticut IB Academy in East Hartford at #164, Central High School at #270 and The Bridge Academy at #466.  The poverty levels for the three schools were listed as 25%, 99.9% and 80.8% respectively.


CT Ranks #21 for Working Women, New Analysis Finds

Connecticut ranks 21st in the nation for working women seeking to balance the various aspects of work and family life, according to a new analysis by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research. The top five:  New York, California, D.C., New Jersey and Rhode Island. The bottom five:  Indiana, Utah, Montana, Mississippi and Wyoming. Women make up almost half of the workforce, according to the report, which notes that “few families have someone who can stay at home to take care of health emergencies, pick children up from school and supervise howoman with laptop and childmework, or take an elderly parent to a doctor’s appointment.”  In half of all families with children, women are the primary or co-breadwinner, the report indicates, and low-income families are particularly likely to have all parents in the labor force.

“Yet, as mothers’ labor force participation has dramatically increased in the past decades (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014) and the number of women and men aged 50 and older who provide care for a parent has tripled during the last 15 years (MetLife 2011), the development of an infrastructure to support workers with family caregiving responsibilities has been largely neglected," the report stresses.logo

The work and family composite compares states’ performance across three components of work-family policy—paid leave, dependent and elder care, and child care—and a fourth component, the gender gap in the labor force participation of parents of children under six, an indicator that highlights gender inequality in family care of young children.

Connecticut received an overall “C” grade in the analysis of work and family issues; no state received a grade higher than B.  In breaking down the rankings, Connecticut ranked 5th in paid leave legislation, 27th in Elder and Dependent Care, 34th in Child Care, and 12th in the Gender Gap in Parents’ Labor Force Participation Rates.  The report indicated that 11.6 percent of women in Connecticut have a person with a disability in their household.

21The analysis pointed out that nationally “many workers lack access to even the most basic supports such as earned sick days and job-protected paid parental leave. Quality child care is also out of reach for many families because it is not affordable. Women are the large majority of family caregivers, and in the absence of reliable family supports, too many women are forced to make difficult decisions between keeping their jobs and caring for their family members.”

New York, California, and the District of Columbia have the highest scores on the work and family composite index, which reflects, in part, high rankings on paid leave. None of the highest ranking states, however, consistently ranks in the top ten states for each of the four component indices, the analysis indicates.

The large majority of mothers are in the workforce, according to the data cited in the report, including 62 percent of mothers who gave birth within the last 12 months map(U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau 2015). The report indicates that Connecticut has 392,974 “breadwinner mothers in households with children under 18,” using 2013 data, ranking the state 25th in the nation at 29 percent.

The Work & Family index was one chapter in a larger report card developed by the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, in their Status of Women in the States report.  Connecticut’s ranking was lowest in the Work & Family analysis.  The state ranked as high as 4th in Poverty & Opportunity, 5th in Employment & Earnings, 6th in Reproductive Rights, 7th in Health & Well-Being, 12th in Political Participation, in addition to ranking 21st in Work & Family.  Overall, Connecticut ranked 5th when all the areas researched were considered.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women, promote public dialogue, and strengthen families, communities, and societies.  Among the partners in the study in Connecticut were the General Assembly's Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and Fairfield County's Community Foundation Fund for Women & Girls.