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

Joe Raedle/GettyOpportunity depends on where you live.
  • 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

Economic opportunity: 49

Equality: 42

Affordability: 19


49. Mississippi

Economic opportunity: 50

Equality: 27

Affordability: 13


48. Alabama

Rob Hainer/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 48

Equality: 39

Affordability: 17


47. Texas

John Moore/Getty Images

Economic opportunity: 37

Equality: 45

Affordability: 24


46. California

Economic opportunity: 30

Equality: 22

Affordability: 49


45. Arizona

Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 38

Equality: 37

Affordability: 34


44. New Mexico

Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 46

Equality: 17

Affordability: 27


43. New York

Economic opportunity: 35

Equality: 5

Affordability: 48


42. Idaho

Economic opportunity: 28

Equality: 48

Affordability: 25


41. Arkansas

Economic opportunity: 47

Equality: 19

Affordability: 12


40. North Carolina

Economic opportunity: 43

Equality: 24

Affordability: 23


39. South Carolina

Economic opportunity: 36

Equality: 28

Affordability: 26


38. Oklahoma

Point2Homes

Economic opportunity: 39

Equality: 44

Affordability: 6


37. Montana

David Harmantas/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 31

Equality: 41

Affordability: 32


36. Florida

Felix Mizioznikov/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 40

Equality: 8

Affordability: 37


35. Utah

Economic opportunity: 7

Equality: 50

Affordability: 30


34. Rhode Island

Economic opportunity: 23

Equality: 30

Affordability: 42


33. Georgia

ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 42

Equality: 13

Affordability: 16


32. Oregon

Google Maps

Economic opportunity: 24

Equality: 20

Affordability: 45


31. Tennessee

ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 41

Equality: 11

Affordability: 21


30. Kentucky

Economic opportunity: 45

Equality: 6

Affordability: 8


29. Connecticut

Economic opportunity: 19

Equality: 34

Affordability: 41


28. Colorado

Economic opportunity: 12

Equality: 38

Affordability: 43


27. Washington

Robert Johnson for Business Insider

Economic opportunity: 16

Equality: 32

Affordability: 44


26. Maine

Economic opportunity: 25

Equality: 16

Affordability: 36


25. Ohio

f11photo/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 34

Equality: 29

Affordability: 1


24. South Dakota

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Economic opportunity: 20

Equality: 46

Affordability: 11


23. West Virginia

Economic opportunity: 44

Equality: 4

Affordability: 9


22. Illinois

Pigprox/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 22

Equality: 31

Affordability: 22


21. Missouri

Tupungato/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 32

Equality: 23

Affordability: 10


20. Michigan

Maria Dryfhout/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 33

Equality: 21

Affordability: 4


19. Nevada

Shutterstock/Nikolas_jkdValley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Economic opportunity: 27

Equality: 7

Affordability: 38


18. Hawaii

Economic opportunity: 4

Equality: 10

Affordability: 50


17. North Dakota

Economic opportunity: 5

Equality: 49

Affordability: 15


16. Pennsylvania

Economic opportunity: 26

Equality: 26

Affordability: 18


15. Wyoming

Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 9

Equality: 43

Affordability: 29


14. Massachusetts

Tupungato/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 8

Equality: 15

Affordability: 47


13. Nebraska

Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 17

Equality: 47

Affordability: 5


12. Kansas

Economic opportunity: 21

Equality: 40

Affordability: 7


11. Indiana

Wikimedia Commons

Economic opportunity: 29

Equality: 35

Affordability: 2


10. New Jersey

mandritoiu/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 10

Equality: 25

Affordability: 40


9. Virginia

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Economic opportunity: 13

Equality: 12

Affordability: 31


8. Wisconsin

Economic opportunity: 11

Equality: 33

Affordability: 14


7. Delaware

Economic opportunity: 14

Equality: 9

Affordability: 28


6. Vermont

Economic opportunity: 18

Equality: 2

Affordability: 33


5. Alaska

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

Economic opportunity: 2

Equality: 18

Affordability: 46


4. Iowa

Economic opportunity: 15

Equality: 36

Affordability: 3


3. Minnesota

Economic opportunity: 6

Equality: 14

Affordability: 20


2. Maryland

Economic opportunity: 3

Equality: 3

Affordability: 39


1. New Hampshire

Economic opportunity: 1

Equality: 1

Affordability: 35

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