The states where the American Dream could become a reality, ranked from most likely to least

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Opportunity depends on where you live. Joe Raedle/Getty
  • US News created a list of every state ranked by opportunity, as measured by economic opportunity, equality, and affordability.
  • States from southern America were low on the list and four of the top six states border Canada.
  • California, Texas, and New York – the three largest states by population – all ranked in the bottom 10, meaning the American Dream is not as strong there.

The American Dream is dead. Or maybe it’s thriving.

It probably depends who you ask and where they live. The American Dream – and what it means to have ‘made it’ it in the US – has transformed over time.

In some states, the American Dream is much more alive than in others. At least, that is the conclusion reached by US Newsranking of states by opportunity with data from McKinsey & Company.

Opportunity is one of the eight factors that went into figuring out US News rankings for best states. In fact, survey participants considered opportunity the fourth most important measurement in the methodology of the rankings.

To determine the ranking, each state was measured on numerous metrics that matched three criteria: economic opportunity, equality, and affordability. The latter two were both given a 40% weight, while affordability was weighed at 20%.

Income inequality, median household income, poverty rates, and food insecurity rates all went in to finding the level of economic opportunity for each state. Equality was measured through education, employment, and income gaps based on gender, race, and disability. Cost of living and housing affordability were considered in the affordability ranking.

Southern states – in both the Deep South and the Southwest – fared poorly on the opportunity ranking. The state that came in first overall did so despite being relatively unaffordable. The most affordable state came in the middle of the pack – 25th for overall opportunity.

Below, see where your state ranks for opportunities to achieve the American Dream.


50. Louisiana

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Economic opportunity: 49

Equality: 42

Affordability: 19


49. Mississippi

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Economic opportunity: 50

Equality: 27

Affordability: 13


48. Alabama

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Economic opportunity: 48

Equality: 39

Affordability: 17


47. Texas

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Economic opportunity: 37

Equality: 45

Affordability: 24


46. California

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Economic opportunity: 30

Equality: 22

Affordability: 49


45. Arizona

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Economic opportunity: 38

Equality: 37

Affordability: 34


44. New Mexico

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Economic opportunity: 46

Equality: 17

Affordability: 27


43. New York

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Economic opportunity: 35

Equality: 5

Affordability: 48


42. Idaho

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Economic opportunity: 28

Equality: 48

Affordability: 25


41. Arkansas

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Economic opportunity: 47

Equality: 19

Affordability: 12


40. North Carolina

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Economic opportunity: 43

Equality: 24

Affordability: 23


39. South Carolina

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Economic opportunity: 36

Equality: 28

Affordability: 26


38. Oklahoma

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Economic opportunity: 39

Equality: 44

Affordability: 6


37. Montana

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Economic opportunity: 31

Equality: 41

Affordability: 32


36. Florida

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Economic opportunity: 40

Equality: 8

Affordability: 37


35. Utah

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Economic opportunity: 7

Equality: 50

Affordability: 30


34. Rhode Island

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Economic opportunity: 23

Equality: 30

Affordability: 42


33. Georgia

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Economic opportunity: 42

Equality: 13

Affordability: 16


32. Oregon

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Economic opportunity: 24

Equality: 20

Affordability: 45


31. Tennessee

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Economic opportunity: 41

Equality: 11

Affordability: 21


30. Kentucky

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Economic opportunity: 45

Equality: 6

Affordability: 8


29. Connecticut

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Economic opportunity: 19

Equality: 34

Affordability: 41


28. Colorado

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Economic opportunity: 12

Equality: 38

Affordability: 43


27. Washington

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Economic opportunity: 16

Equality: 32

Affordability: 44


26. Maine

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Economic opportunity: 25

Equality: 16

Affordability: 36


25. Ohio

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Economic opportunity: 34

Equality: 29

Affordability: 1


24. South Dakota

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Economic opportunity: 20

Equality: 46

Affordability: 11


23. West Virginia

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Economic opportunity: 44

Equality: 4

Affordability: 9


22. Illinois

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Economic opportunity: 22

Equality: 31

Affordability: 22


21. Missouri

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Economic opportunity: 32

Equality: 23

Affordability: 10


20. Michigan

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Economic opportunity: 33

Equality: 21

Affordability: 4


19. Nevada

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Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada. Shutterstock/Nikolas_jkd

Economic opportunity: 27

Equality: 7

Affordability: 38


18. Hawaii

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Economic opportunity: 4

Equality: 10

Affordability: 50


17. North Dakota

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Economic opportunity: 5

Equality: 49

Affordability: 15


16. Pennsylvania

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Economic opportunity: 26

Equality: 26

Affordability: 18


15. Wyoming

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Economic opportunity: 9

Equality: 43

Affordability: 29


14. Massachusetts

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Economic opportunity: 8

Equality: 15

Affordability: 47


13. Nebraska

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Economic opportunity: 17

Equality: 47

Affordability: 5


12. Kansas

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Economic opportunity: 21

Equality: 40

Affordability: 7


11. Indiana

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Economic opportunity: 29

Equality: 35

Affordability: 2


10. New Jersey

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Economic opportunity: 10

Equality: 25

Affordability: 40


9. Virginia

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Economic opportunity: 13

Equality: 12

Affordability: 31


8. Wisconsin

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Economic opportunity: 11

Equality: 33

Affordability: 14


7. Delaware

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Economic opportunity: 14

Equality: 9

Affordability: 28


6. Vermont

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Economic opportunity: 18

Equality: 2

Affordability: 33


5. Alaska

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If scenic landscapes like Mendenhall Glacier weren’t enough of a reason to consider moving to Alaska, free money almost definitely is. Flickr/Joseph

Economic opportunity: 2

Equality: 18

Affordability: 46


4. Iowa

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Economic opportunity: 15

Equality: 36

Affordability: 3


3. Minnesota

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Economic opportunity: 6

Equality: 14

Affordability: 20


2. Maryland

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Economic opportunity: 3

Equality: 3

Affordability: 39


1. New Hampshire

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Economic opportunity: 1

Equality: 1

Affordability: 35