Connecticut Ranks #39 Among States for Retirement; Lowest In New England

Connecticut, ranking 39th overall and lowest among the six New England states, came away with a mixed bag of results on a list of the “Best and Worst Places to Retire,” compiled by the financial data website and published this week. The good news:  Connecticut ranked #6 in crime rate, the state’s highest ranking among the six categories included in the survey, and just outside the top ten at #12 for health care quality.  Undeterred by the challenging February weather this year, Connecticut ranked #14 for weather among the nation’s 50 states.  Not so good – Connecticut ranked near the bottom, at #48, in cost of living, and at the middle-of-the-pack, at #24, for community well-being.

The survey of around 1,000 adults in the U.S. questioned what Americans' priorities are when it comes to retirement. Nearly a quarter of those surveyed said being close to family was the deciding factor. But when it came to climate, while around a quarter prefer being close to a beach, nearly 40 percent of people want access to the great outdoors, rivers and mountains, according to published reports highlighting the survey results.retrirement

The top 10 states were Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Virginia, Iowa, Montana, South Dakota, Arizona and Nebraska.  The highest ranked New England states were Maine at #12, Vermont at #15 and New Hampshire at #16.  Massachusetts came in at #18 on the list, and Rhode Island was just ahead of Connecticut at #38.

By category, Minnesota topped the list in health care quality, Hawaii was #1 in community well-being, New Mexico was #1 in weather, and Mississippi (which ranked #36 overall) had the lowest cost of living.   Vermont had the lowest crime rate and Wyoming the lowest tax rate.

Bankrate provided the following breakdown of the origin of the data used in compiling the rankings:  The cost-of-living data was provided by the Council for Community and Economic Research, a Virginia-based group that tracks retail prices in more than 300 communities around the country. Crime statistics include property and violent crimes reported by police departments to the FBI.senior man

Health care quality scores come from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a federal office that measures each state's performance on about 160 different health-related issues. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provided weather data, including readings on temperature, humidity and sunshine. The "well-being" scores for seniors were from Healthways, a research group that works with the Gallup polling service to survey the public about their happiness and general satisfaction with their surroundings.

There are worse places than Connecticut to retire, according to the survey.  Among them:  Oklahoma, Oregon, Missouri, Kentucky, Louisiana, West Virginia, Alaska, and Arkansas, as well as New York and New Jersey.  Hawaii also ranked in the bottom 10, largely due to its highest-in-the-nation cost of living.

Warning: Be Wary of State Economic Development Rankings, Study Finds

New analysis from a national research organization is casting considerable doubt on the validity of the steady stream of state economic development rankings that routinely appear in the media.  State economic rankings cannot be taken at face value, according to an article published online by the Journal of Applied Research in Economic Development.

"How Can I Create My Favorite State Ranking?" points out that such rankings typically are subjective and often offer little meaningful information, despite their pervasiveness in the media, government and among economic analysts.

"Often, these ranstateskings are plagued by lack of clarity about what is being measured or whether the ranking accurately assesses what it claims to measure," said Yasuyuki Motoyama, Ph.D., senior scholar at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, who wrote the article with Jared Konczal, a senior analyst. "Further, the connection between these indexes and actual economic growth and performance at the state level is ambiguous, at best."

The proliferation of state rankings, the authors point out, can lead policymakers and economic development consultants to misuse them, either celebrating a conveniently positive ranking or initiating efforts to address a poor ranking, when neither action may be based on valid economic indicators.  The Kauffman Foundation website points out that the authors conducted a series of exercises to demonstrate how such rankings can be manipulated, using eight state-level indicators:

  • Self-employment rate
  • Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity
  • Business startup rate
  • Ratio of science and engineering bachelor degree holders to the total population
  • Patents per science and engineering workforce
  • Venture capital investment over Gross State Product
  • Research and development expenditures
  • Number of high-growth Inc. 500 firms  

The indicators were chosen because they typically are used to measure entrepreneurship and innovation, two vital indicators for every state's economic health. The subjectivity and limitations of state economic rankings led to four observations, according to the article:

  1. Policymakers should not rely on a single indicator to gauge economic conditions.
  2. Aggregating indicators does not provide solutions because indicators are highly variable.
  3. Policymakers should not focus on improving their states' rankings because the rankings lack meaning.
  4. Rather, they should employ a scorecard approach, which does not create a normative, quantified measure, but descriptively assesses various conditions of each state.  

Demonstrating that rankings can be developed in ways that favor any given state, the Kauffman researchers created a simulation analysis with randomly generatedkauffman-details-logo weights, which revealed that, among 1,000 different scenarios, five states were eligible to be No. 1, 16 were eligible for the Top Five and 22 could be ranked in the Top 10.

Depending upon how a range of variables were weighted, Connecticut placed in the top 10 in 41 of the scenarios, 17th overall among the states.  (Just ahead of Texas; just behind Maine).  The full report can be viewed on Journal of Applied Research in Economic Development. website.