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Tribune Reporters
'Meanwhile' is a collaborative blog about all the crazy stuff on the Internet. Here, reporters from various Tribune desks tell you what you (almost) need to know about topics ranging from technology to YouTube sensations. Contributors: Michael McFall, Dave Newlin, Matt Piper, Brennan Smith, Erin Alberty. Edited by Sheena McFarland.

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Utah is America’s fourth-best state, according to Politico index

Politico’s Margaret Slattery has reprised H.L. Mencken’s 1931 "The Worst American State" project, and found, among other things, that the honor still belongs to Mississippi. Using 14 available rankings — none of which are new, it bears mentioning — she determined that "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire is the nation’s "strongest" state, while Utah ranks close behind in fourth.

You can read the rest of Margaret’s story here. And you should. But appropriating the data she’s collected, we bring you a rough sketch of Utahns:

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• Utahns don’t make a ton of money (44th in per capita income), but most have jobs (fourth-lowest unemployment rate), relatively few are in poverty (13th-lowest poverty rate), their wealth is evenly distributed (third-least income inequality) and Utahns are more likely than residents of 40 other states to own homes.

• Utahns are the sixth-least criminal. Though slightly over half as upstanding as No. 1 Mainers, they are three times less unlawful than neighboring Nevadans and six times as law-abiding as the residents of our nation’s capital.

• Utahns are eighth-most likely to graduate high school, but their math scores (tied for 25th) and reading scores (29th) are pedestrian. Still, Utahns are ninth-most likely to be employed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs.

• Sixth-slimmest, Utahns are expected to live 10th-longest (80.2) and Utah babies are most likely to live, period, with the state tying Massachusetts for the lowest infant mortality rate (4.9). Utahns also have the fourth-highest rate of wellbeing.

— Matthew Piper

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