We recently ranked all 50 US states and Washington, DC based on how normal or weird they were. Here’s how we did it.
We took 40 social, economic, and demographic measures, mostly from the 2014 American Community Survey one-year estimates recently released by the Census Bureau, accessed via the American FactFinder tool. The full list of measures is at the bottom of this post.
For each measure, we took the average value of the measure across all fifty states and the District of Columbia. Then, we found how far away from that average each state was along a normalized scale. (Formally, we found the absolute value of the z-score for each state on each measure.) Finally, to get an overall sense of how far from average a state was, we added together those distances for each state, and ranked them on that combined index.
Here are the measures we used in the ranking. Unless otherwise noted, the data for each came from the above mentioned 2014 American Community Survey:
- Population Percent male Percent female Median age
Race and ethnicity
The Census Bureau has for the last several years defined Hispanic or Latino as an ethnicity, rather than a separate racial grouping. This is reflected in the categories below:
- Percent non-Hispanic white alone Percent non-Hispanic black or African American alone Percent non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native alone Percent non-Hispanic Asian alone Percent non-Hispanic Hawaiian/Pacific Islander alone Percent non-Hispanic, some other race alone Percent non-Hispanic, two or more races Percent Hispanic, any race
Marriage and children
- Percent of households made up of families with their own children under 18 Average household size Percent of males over the age of 15 who are currently married and not separated Percent of females over the age of 15 who are currently married and not separated Number of births per 1,000 women between the ages of 15 and 50
Education and military experience
- Percent with at least a high school diploma Percent with at least a bachelor’s degree Percent of population who are civilian veterans
- Percent with at least one disability Percent with health insurance
Mobility and transportation
- Percent who moved homes in the last year Mean work commute time Percent with access to at least one car
Nativity and language
- Percent born outside the US Percent speaking a language other than English at home
Access to technology
- Percent with a computer at home Percent with a broadband internet connection at home
Income and economy
- Median household income Poverty rate August 2015 unemployment rate (from Bureau of Labor Statistics) 2014 Gross Domestic Product per capita (from Bureau of Economic Analysis)
- Housing unit vacancy rate Percent of housing units that are single family detached houses Percent of housing units built after 2010 Percent of housing units built between 2000 and 2009 Median home value Median monthly cost for a homeowner with a mortgage Median gross monthly apartment rent