You don’t have to look hard to find problems with living in Connecticut. As Forbes recently noted, the state has one of the worst performing economies in the nation. The business climate is routinely ranked as one of the least attractive in the country. The U.S. Energy Information Agency indicates that residential ratepayers pay the third-highest electricity rates in the nation. As I’ve written previously, Connecticut has the worst roads in the country according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.
It goes on and on. While admitting the problem is the crucial first step to any recovery, pointing to trouble can easily be construed as helpless pessimism, especially if you do it often enough.
The truth is that despite the challenges, Connecticut is a great place to live. The state offers a quality of life and access to amenities that are hard to find in any other place in the country. Let’s count some of the ways, according to the U.S. Census Bureau:
1. Connecticut’s median household income is the third highest in the nation
2. Connecticut drivers have the third lowest fatality rate in the nation
3. Connecticut has one of the lowest poverty rates in the nation
4. Connecticut’s personal income per capita is the highest in the nation
5. Connecticut has the second highest concentration of people with a bachelor’s degree
These rankings combined with other measures spurred the Social Science Research Council to rank Connecticut’s quality of life as the best in the country. While the report could have saved itself 59 of 60 pages by simply writing down the words: “It’s better to be rich than poor,” the point remains that same.
But quality of life isn’t simply measured by poverty rates or the presence of educated people sitting next to you at McDonald’s. It is also about amenities and opportunities. With both New York City and Boston a two-hour drive from the middle of Connecticut, there is a wealth of cultural opportunities available to the state’s residents. Just a sampling includes:
• Four of the top 25 museums in the United States according to tripadvisor
• Five of the top 10 national universities according to U.S. News and World Report
• Two of the 13 Presidential libraries operated by the National Archives and Records Administration
• Four of the 18 hospitals on U.S. News & World Report’s Honor Roll of Best Hospitals 2013-14
• 3 NFL Super Bowl championships, 3 MLB World Series championships (two for the Red Sox, only one for the Yankees by the way), 1 Stanley Cup championship, and 1 NBA championship in the last 10 years
These stats barely scratch the surface. Feel free to add your favorite ones in the comment section.
Connecticut faces real policy challenges that must be addressed to improve the lives of the state’s residents and expand their opportunities to live and thrive in the state. But efforts to address these challenges should not lose sight of the fact that Connecticut is a great place to live. It surely is.
Heath W. Fahle is the Policy Director of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy and a former Executive Director of the Connecticut Republican Party. Contact Heath about this article by visiting www.heathwfahle.com