by Mark Mueller
Take that, Jersey-bashers!
Often ridiculed on the national stage as a place teeming with toxic waste, political corruption and gauche reality TV stars, New Jersey has landed at the top in a recent ranking of the best states to raise a family.
Niche, a Pittsburgh-based company that mines and analyzes all manner of government data to produce “best of” lists, found the Garden State had just the right alchemy of factors to push it to number one.
The report card included “A” ratings on education, typically one of New Jersey’s strongest draws, and on access to libraries. Three more categories — crime and safety, access to daycare and community involvement and investment — received “A-” scores.
In the company’s weighting, safe communities and good schools accounted for 40 percent of the overall score. Daycare and access to grocery stores were worth 5 percent each.
The state fared poorly on housing, a category that incorporates home values, property taxes, housing costs, and the age of new home buyers. Niche rated New Jersey a “C” on that front. But because it accounted for just 10 percent of the overall score, housing was not enough to dislodge the state from the top spot.
Cost of living, typically one of the biggest complaints about New Jersey, was not considered in the ratings.
The Northeast in general made a strong showing in the assessment, with Connecticut ranking fifth, Massachusetts sixth, New Hampshire 10th, Vermont 12th, New York 16th, Pennsylvania 19th and Maine 20th.
Virginia, which scored poorly only on access to grocery stores, finished just below New Jersey, followed by Minnesota and Utah.
Hawaii — land of luaus and white sandy beaches — was not considered because of insufficient data, Niche reported.
The worst state to raise a family?
Louisiana, according to the company, which gave the Pelican State grades of “D+” for crime and safety, “C” for education and “C-” for community involvement and investment.
New Mexico, Tennessee, Mississippi and Nevada rounded out the bottom five.