Utahns enjoy brighter opportunities in life than most Americans — but a new national study still ranks those advantages at only No. 19 among the states.
The annual Opportunity Index developed by the Opportunity Nation forum for youth investment, measures and ranks statistics about the local economy, education, health and community safety and involvement.
Out of a possible overall score of 100, Utah received 56.5. The average score nationally was 53.1.
States receiving the top scores were Minnesota (62.5), Vermont (62.3) and Iowa (62.1).
The lowest scoring states were New Mexico (42.8), Louisiana (43.4) and Mississippi and Nevada (tied at 44.8).
In separate broad categories the study evaluated, Utah ranked No. 3 among the states for its economy — looking at such things as wages, income inequality and poverty rates.
It ranked No. 23 in education, looking at data including on-time high school graduation and college completion.
Utah was No. 25 in health, including evaluating deaths due to suicide or drugs; low birth weight; and lack of health insurance.
And the Beehive State ranked No. 19 in the community score for such things as crime and incarceration rates, voter registration and “disconnected youth” who are not in school nor working.
The study also gave letter grades to many — but not all — of the counties in Utah.
At the top was Summit County, where ski resorts attract many wealthy residents, with a grade of B+.
At the bottom with a grade of D+ was San Juan County, home of the Navajo Reservation and some of the state’s lowest incomes in the state.
Counties with a grade of B included Davis and Cache. Utah County received a B-.
Scoring a C+ were: Salt Lake, Juab, Kane, Millard and Washington counties.
Those with a C were: Box Elder, Carbon, Emery, Iron, Sanpete, Tooele and Weber.
Scoring a C- were Duchesne, Uintah and Sevier.
Other counties did not receive a letter score in the report.
The report noted that nationally, opportunity remains segregated by race and ethnicity. The 59 counties nationally with an A or A- opportunity grade are on average 78 percent white and just 5 percent black. In contrast, the counties receiving a grade of D- or F are on average 55 percent white and 13 percent black.
For states, the report said that high incarceration rates remain the indicator most associated with lower opportunity, followed closely by poverty and youth disconnection.