Depending on what exactly makes one state better than another state, you've got to think that with all of Illinois' problems (crazy high taxes, higher than normal unemployment, and over the half the population saying they'd prefer to live elsewhere) we'd be at, or near the bottom of the rankings in a new study.

But you'd be wrong.

Don't misunderstand, this piece isn't going to tell you that Illinois ranks number-one on the list of the "best states," but we're not sitting at the bottom looking up at every other state, either.

Care to make a guess before reading on?

USA map with magnified Illinois State. Illinois flag and map.
Getty Images

So, What Criteria Do You Look At To Determine Which States Are Better Than Other States?

Every year, US News & World Report ( rolls out their Best States Rankings, for which they look at "thousands of data points" to see how well states are performing for their citizens:

In addition to health care and education, the rankings take into account a state’s economy; its roads, bridges, internet and other infrastructure; its public safety; its natural environment; the fiscal stability of state government; and the opportunity it affords its residents.

More weight was accorded to some categories than others, based on a survey of what matters most to people. Health care and education were weighted most heavily.

Before we get to where US News ranked Illinois, here are their picks for the top 5 best states in the United States:

  1. Utah
  2. Washington
  3. Idaho
  4. Nebraska
  5. Minnesota

Our neighbors in Iowa are ranked at #7, and Wisconsin is ranked #8

Illinois State Interstate road sign
Getty Images

I Told You That Illinois Wasn't Ranked Number-One, But We're Also Not Number-Fifty---So Where Does That Leave Us?

According to, Illinois, the Land of Lincoln, the Prairie State (or Home of the FIBS if you're from Wisconsin), shows up in the rankings at #36, which is down 6 spots from where we were in 2021. Here's Illinois' ranking scorecard:

    • Crime and Corrections: #12
    • Economy: #39
    • Education: #12
    • Fiscal Stability: #50
    • Healthcare: #28
    • Infrastructure: #19
    • Natural Environment: #38
    • Opportunity: #35

LOOK: 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the US

From secret gardens to underground caves, Stacker compiled a list of 25 must-visit hidden gems from across the United States using travel guides, news articles, and company websites.

Gallery Credit: Abby Monteil

LOOK: 50 cozy towns to visit this winter

Stacker created a list of 50 cozy American towns to visit each winter. Towns were selected based on visitor opinions, ratings from nationwide publications, and tourist attractions.

Gallery Credit: Laura Ratliff

More From WROK 1440 AM / 96.1 FM