Thursday, February 26, 2015

Hardest Places to Live in the US

I ran across an article titled, Where are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S. in the New York Times.  It ranks the counties in the United States by quality of life and focuses upon the hardest counties to live in. That was a new twist on the way I look at the United States. The interactive map is very interesting.

I usually look at the best places to live and never even consider the counties at the bottom of the list.

I was amazed a what the interactive map in the article revealed about some of the places live or visit:

Howard County, MD is 9th best county in the US out of 3135 counties.
Albemarle County, VA is 16th.
Tompkins County, NY is 170th.
Palm Beach County, FL is 344th.
Sarasota County, FL is 391st.

But at the other end of the list--Clay county, KY is 3135th.

The article is very interesting. I never really thought about how great the difference is between the top and bottom of the lists. When I look at the interactive map, I was amazed at the poverty and difficult living conditions along the Appalachians and especially in Eastern Kentucky.

Other observations. Wyoming, Connecticut,  and Hawaii do not have any counties in the doing worse category. 

From the article: The 10 lowest counties in the country, by this ranking, include a cluster of six in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky (Breathitt, Clay, Jackson, Lee, Leslie and Magoffin), along with four others in various parts of the rural South: Humphreys County, Miss.; East Carroll Parish, La.; Jefferson County, Ga.; and Lee County, Ark.

Personally, I found it amazing at the disparity between counties in some states. Maryland has Montgomery (6) and Howard (9) counties (9) while a short distance away is Baltimore City (2419) and Somerset County (2518). The biggest disparities seem to be in New Mexico between Los Alamos (1) and McKinley (2793) counties or South Dakota between Lincoln (8) and Shannon (3080) counties.  There are a couple of counties in Alaska for which there is no data--which I found interesting. 

The U.S. is a land of great diversity and I know that I rarely consider the quality of life of the people outside the region in which I live or visit. There is a great disparity in quality of life and despite taxes and social programs, I'm not convinced the needs of those living in the counties near the bottom are being adequately addressed. 

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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