This Is the Worst State to Live in Right Now

Looking at factors from its unemployment rate to its COVID standing, this state is the worst off.

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You don't need us to tell you that 2020 is arguably one of the worst years we'll ever live through. Between the coronavirus taking more than 221,000 lives nationwide, the wildfires ravaging much of the West, and the social upheaval happening in most parts of the country, this year has undoubtedly been difficult. But while 2020 has certainly been awful to most of us, things aren't equally terrible in every corner of the U.S. When looking at economic, environmental, and physical well-being, it's clear some states have it worse than others. With this in mind, we sought to figure out which state specifically is the worst to live in right now, based solely on scientific data. Read on to find out how we calculated the numbers, and for another state that got a bad name, check out The Most Hated State in America.

To determine the Worst State Index scores, we looked at data that captured the unpleasantness of a state, including its poverty rate, according to U.S. Census Bureau data, and its most recent unemployment rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition to those economic indicators, we accounted for factors that affect residents' health, including air pollution (measured by the amount of carbon dioxide emissions, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration), and, of course, we can't talk about medical issues in 2020 without factoring in the prevalence of COVID-19 in each state. Specifically, we looked at the seven-day average percent of positive tests performed, according to Johns Hopkins' Coronavirus Research Center. To wrap it all up, we added in each state's average life expectancy, based on data from the National Vital Statistics System. Then, we used our exclusive algorithm to calculate all 50 Worst State Index scores.

Taking these numbers into consideration, one state stood out as extraordinarily unpleasant. While there is plenty to love about this state, it's also a top scorer in the wrong ways: It has a high poverty rate, a shorter average life expectancy, and its COVID numbers are trending in the wrong direction. But what really puts this state at the bottom of the barrel is its astonishing output of poison into the air. Producing 707 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, it's a particularly toxic place to live in.

Most of the worst states to live in right now are in the South or Midwest, though a Western one did climb—or fall—into the ranks of the 10 baddest of the bad. To see where your state lands, read the full ranking from the best state to live in right now to the worst. And for the states struggling the most with the virus at the moment, find out How Bad the COVID Outbreak Is in Your State.

50
Vermont

cityscape of windsor vermont
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 80 years old

Poverty rate: 9 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 1.5 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.8 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 6 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 50.85

And for more areas you may want to avoid, find out which is The Dirtiest State in the U.S.

49
New Hampshire

Lake Sunapee is located within Sullivan County and Merrimack County in western New Hampshire, the United States. It is the fifth-largest lake located entirely in New Hampshire.
DenisTangneyJr / iStock

Life expectancy: 80.1 years old

Poverty rate: 5.6 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 1.5 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.5 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 13 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 51.53

48
Connecticut

hartford connecticut skyline
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 80.9 years old

Poverty rate: 9.7 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 1.4 percent

Unemployment rate: 8.1 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 33 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 59.63

And for the state that's least likely to give you a wave, here's The Unfriendliest State in the U.S.

47
Maine

asticou azalea garden in the fall with a reflection on the pond
Randall Vermillion / Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.7 years old

Poverty rate: 11.5 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 0.5 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 15 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 60.28

46
Maryland

chesapeake bay in annapolis maryland
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.6 years old

Poverty rate: 7.5 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 5.8 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 52 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 64.40

45
Delaware

View from inside the Ashland covered bridge in Yorklyn, New Castle County, Delaware during the fall with colorful foliage in bright sunlight
iStock

Life expectancy: 78.7 years old

Poverty rate: 7.6 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 5.7 percent

Unemployment rate: 8.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 12 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 65.20

And for the state lacking a little fun, meet The Most Boring State in the U.S.

44
North Dakota

North Dakota
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.7 years old

Poverty rate: 10.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 7.6 percent

Unemployment rate: 5 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 56 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 65.30

43
Hawaii

Na Pali Coast Hawaii
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 82 years old

Poverty rate: 9.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 2.8 percent

Unemployment rate: 12.5 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 18 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 65.45

And for more on the first data point, Here's How Long You're Likely to Live in Every State.

42
Minnesota

Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 81 years old

Poverty rate: 7.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 4.7 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.4 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 88 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 65.90

41
Colorado

ridgway, colorado in fall
Unsplash

Life expectancy: 80.5 years old

Poverty rate: 9.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 3.9 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.7 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 87 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 66.28

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40
Nebraska

lincoln nebraska
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.6 years old

Poverty rate: 10.3 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 12.1 percent

Unemployment rate: 4 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 48 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 67.20

39
Utah

Provo, Utah
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.8 years old

Poverty rate: 7.6 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 14 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.1 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 58 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 67.45

38
Washington

The Autumn Seattle Skyline Sunset.
iStock

Life expectancy: 80.3 years old

Poverty rate: 8.8 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 2.8 percent

Unemployment rate: 8.5 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 78 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 67.75

37
Oregon

Portland, Oregon
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.6 years old

Poverty rate: 9.8 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 7.1 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.7 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 38 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 67.85

36
Alaska

Multiple brown bear at McNeil River State Game Sanctuary fishing for salmon
iStock

Life expectancy: 78.8 years old

Poverty rate: 11.8 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 4.8 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.4 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 34 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 68.05

35
Rhode Island

downtown providence rhode island
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.9 years old

Poverty rate: 9.8 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 1.8 percent

Unemployment rate: 12.8 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 10 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 68.65

34
Montana

Montana
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.6 years old

Poverty rate: 10.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 11.1 percent

Unemployment rate: 5.6 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 30 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 68.95

33
Massachusetts

mit at cambridge massachusetts
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 80.7 years old

Poverty rate: 9.2 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 1 percent

Unemployment rate: 11.3 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 63 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 69.28

32
Virginia

A horse drawn carriage along the street in Williamsburg in the Fall
iStock

Life expectancy: 79.4 years old

Poverty rate: 9.7 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 5.7 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.1 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 98 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 71.05

31
Arizona

skyline of tucson arizon
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.9 years old

Poverty rate: 12.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 6.7 percent

Unemployment rate: 5.7 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 86 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 71.15

30
New Jersey

New Jersey, located on Upper New York Bay in Jersey City, opposite both Liberty Island and Ellis Island.
iStock

Life expectancy: 80.5 years old

Poverty rate: 8.2 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 2.6 percent

Unemployment rate: 10.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 101 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 74.23

29
South Dakota

Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.4 years old

Poverty rate: 10.6 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 21.5 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.8 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 14 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 74.65

28
Idaho

boise idaho
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.4 years old

Poverty rate: 10 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 23.3 percent

Unemployment rate: 4.1 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 18 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 74.95

27
South Carolina

bridge in charleston south carolina
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 77 years old

Poverty rate: 14.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 4.4 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.3 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 69 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 76.03

26
Iowa

iowa university with fall foliage
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 79.6 years old

Poverty rate: 8.6 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 17.7 percent

Unemployment rate: 6 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 76 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 78.60

25
Wyoming

moulton barn at the grand teton national park in wyoming
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.8 years old

Poverty rate: 10.5 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 15.1 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.6 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 61 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 78.83

24
Kansas

Wichita, kansas
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.6 years old

Poverty rate: 10.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 16.2 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 58 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 80.45

23
North Carolina

blue ridge north carolina mountains, most common street names
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.1 years old

Poverty rate: 13.6 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 6 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.5 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 115 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 80.78

22
Georgia

Georgia
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 77.7 years old

Poverty rate: 13.3 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 6.2 percent

Unemployment rate: 5.6 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 132 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 81.80

21
Oklahoma

tulsa oklahoma skyline
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 75.8 years old

Poverty rate: 12.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 8.6 percent

Unemployment rate: 5.7 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 93 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 82.43

20
Missouri

Gateway Arch in St. Louis MO
iStock

Life expectancy: 77.6 years old

Poverty rate: 11 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 7.4 percent

Unemployment rate: 7 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 122 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 82.45

19
Wisconsin

Scenic Small Town Nestled in Autumn Valley, Beautiful Rural Wisconsin Fall colors.
iStock

Life expectancy: 80 years old

Poverty rate: 8.7 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 19.3 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.2 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 98 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 82.65

18
Arkansas

fayetteville arkansas street
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 76 years old

Poverty rate: 15 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 7.8 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.4 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 64 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 83.60

17
Michigan

Historic Michigan Theater, built in 1928, located on East Liberty St in Downtown, Ann Arbor
iStock

Life expectancy: 78.2 years old

Poverty rate: 10.7 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 3.3 percent

Unemployment rate: 8.7 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 152 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 84.00

16
New Mexico

Suburb in Albuquerque, NM
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.4 years old

Poverty rate: 17.2 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 5 percent

Unemployment rate: 11.3 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 49 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 84.13

15
Tennessee

at and t building in nashville tennessee
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 76.3 years old

Poverty rate: 12.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 6.4 percent

Unemployment rate: 8.5 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 98 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 85.15

14
New York

albany new york capital building
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 81 years old

Poverty rate: 12.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 1.2 percent

Unemployment rate: 12.5 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 157 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 85.93

13
West Virginia

sad millennial gazing upon beautiful town in West Virginia
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 75.3 years old

Poverty rate: 15.6 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 3.2 percent

Unemployment rate: 8.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 91 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 87.38

12
Kentucky

louisville kentucky at night
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 75.9 years old

Poverty rate: 14.2 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 7.3 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.6 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 114 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 89.15

11
Mississippi

jackson mississippi skyline
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 74.9 years old

Poverty rate: 19.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 6.4 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 67 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 89.88

10
Nevada

Reno nevada
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.4 years old

Poverty rate: 12.2 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 14.9 percent

Unemployment rate: 13.2 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 36 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 91.20

9
Alabama

montgomery alabama
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 75.5 years old

Poverty rate: 14.7 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 13.3 percent

Unemployment rate: 5.6 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 108 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 91.70

8
Illinois

chicago cityscape over the river
iStock

Life expectancy: 79.3 years old

Poverty rate: 10.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 4.1 percent

Unemployment rate: 11 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 201 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 93.03

7
Ohio

dayton ohio
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 77.6 years old

Poverty rate: 12.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 3.5 percent

Unemployment rate: 8.9 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 204 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 94.00

6
Indiana

Indianapolis, Indiana, USA downtown cityscape on the White River at dusk.
iStock

Life expectancy: 77.4 years old

Poverty rate: 11.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 14.1 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.4 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 176 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 95.20

5
Florida

Sarasota, Florida
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 80.1 years old

Poverty rate: 12.9 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 10.1 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.4 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 227 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 95.98

4
Pennsylvania

pittsburgh pennsylvania
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.6 years old

Poverty rate: 10.5 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 7.9 percent

Unemployment rate: 10.3 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 215 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 98.68

3
Louisiana

Life expectancy: 76 years old

Poverty rate: 19.1 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 4.9 percent

Unemployment rate: 7.6 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 226 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 105.45

2
California

los angeles california skyline
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 81.3 years old

Poverty rate: 11.4 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 2.7 percent

Unemployment rate: 11.4 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 359 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 109.18

1
Texas

houston texas skyline
Shutterstock

Life expectancy: 78.8 years old

Poverty rate: 12.7 percent

COVID test positivity rate: 7.6 percent

Unemployment rate: 6.8 percent

Carbon dioxide emissions per year: 707 million metric tons

Worst State Index score: 154.68

And for another factor that plays into a state's quality of life, find out The State Where Your Money Is Worth the Least.

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