Minnesota moves up in rankings for best place to make a living

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Minnesota has moved into the very top tier of the best states to make a living, as determined by the financial website MoneyRates.com.

It is the fourth year for the survey, which arrives at its rankings by using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. It examines average salary, cost of living, employment rate, and workplace conditions.

In the 2014 survey, Minnesota ranked third, behind first-place Washington and second-ranked Texas. Minnesota accelerated in the rankings because of "...the strength of a very low unemployment rate and excellent workplace condition." The story went on to say that Minnesota "...does have a higher-than-average cost of living and tax burden, but incomes in the state are more than enough to make up for these disadvantages."

In the 2013 survey, Minnesota ranked sixth. Minnesota was not in the top 10 in 2012.

Other states in the top 10 in order in the most recent ranking include Colorado, Utah, North Dakota (which surged into the 6th place from its ranking of No. 17 in 2013), Virginia, Nevada, Oklahoma and Nebraska.

The worst state to make a living? Hawaii has held the bottom position, ranking as No. 50 for all four years that the study has been done. "The primary problem is that a cost of living more than 50 percent higher than the norm makes it very difficult to make a decent living, and wages in the state are not nearly high enough to compensate."

Other states in the bottom 10 include eastern states that have a high cost of living and high taxes (New York ranked 49th, Rhode Island ranked 47th, Connecticut was 46th and New Jersey was 42nd), and southern states with low wages and high unemployment (Mississippi was 48th, Alabama ranked 44th, Arkansas was 43rd and South Caroline was 41st). Alaska was ranked at No. 45 for its high cost of living.

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In analyzing the findings, Forbes magazine noted that regional differences in pay scales and cost-of-living can be very real. The article suggests that in some fields, workers should consider relocating to a region where paychecks trend higher.

“A lot of times if you happen to be living in a state with a high unemployment rate or high cost of living it’s very easy to assume things are tough all over,” Richard Barrington, senior financial analyst for MoneyRates.com and author of the stud, told the magazine. “But there may be substantially better opportunities somewhere else.”

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