Dick Yarbrough, Syndicated columnist
You may be interested to know that you reside in a dumper of a place called Georgia. That revelation comes courtesy of TOP Data, a market research company with offices all over the world including Atlanta, the capital city of what they consider to be the 35th worst state in the nation in which to live.
That’s us. According to TOP Data, “The pandemic enabled millions to work remotely for the first time ever causing a once in a generation reshuffling of how Americans work and where they choose to live. To determine which states have adapted best to serve this remote world, the market research company conducted an in-depth analysis of the Best and Worst States to live in 2022.”
TOP Data compared the 50 states across eight dimensions: Affordability; Crime & Safety; Economy; Education; Healthcare; Infrastructure; Opportunity; and Quality of Life, using 76 “relevant metrics” that are, to be kind, eye-glazing.
As a result of their number-crunching, they say, “Georgia ranked as one of the worst states to live in with 56.35 points, as it ranked in the bottom half of the rankings on nearly every indicator, despite having higher scores in Infrastructure and Job Opportunity.” To which I say, “Kiss my grits.”
Before I became your modest-and-much-beloved columnist, I spent a number of years in the communications business and was proficient enough to have been recognized as one of the “100 Most Influential Public Relations People of the 20th Century.” OK, so maybe it was a slow century for influential public relations people but I must have done something right. What I didn’t do was send out a release to people like me who love Georgia and who write a weekly column that runs from one end of this great state to the other, informing me that Georgia ranks as one of the worst states to live in. What I would have done is to fire whoever at TOP Data came up with this stupid and pointless and insulting exercise.
If this is a new business pitch offering to extricate us from the morass in which they find us, they missed badly. I wouldn’t hire them to organize a corn-shucking. Here is one example: In the Quality of Life category, they measured the number of people employed as bartenders and related drink services per 100K people. We come in 25th. Evidently, they failed to give points for a sunrise on St. Simons Island, which beats how many bartenders we have by a mile. Not to mention Vidalia onions or “Georgia on My Mind,” as sung by Ray Charles Robinson, of Albany, Georgia.
By contrast, TOP Data ranks Wyoming, which has less people than Gwinnett County and according to World Population Review a negative growth rate of 0.60% per year, as the best state in which to live. Vermont, which is less populated than Cobb County and also has a 0.60% negative growth rate and who I seem to recall was recently paying people to move there, is their Number 2.
New Jersey (#7), Connecticut (#12) and New York (#19) also are showing negative growth rates says the World Population Review while 35th ranked Georgia is the eighth fastest growing state in the nation, adding more people last year than North Dakota’s (#6) total population.
I have carefully examined TOP Data’s 76 relevant metrics (Inhale) graded on a 100-point scale with a score of 100 being the max which determined each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order its sample. (Exhale.)
Nowhere could I find a metric about people moving here from places where it snows 10 months a year and all their buildings are rusted. Long before there was a TOP Data to inform us how Georgia and our Southern neighbors are some of the worst states in which to live, my daddy observed how many tax dollars we wasted painting lines down the middle of our highways. That was because nobody moved north. They all came south. They still do.
TOP Data finishes its analysis of the Best & Worst States to Live In by informing us that it “delivers business, consumer, and marketing insights at the speed of breaking news.” Here is some speedy breaking news for TOP Data: In my own in-depth analysis of the Best and Worst Pieces of PR Rubbish to come across my desk, yours is the worst. And it didn’t take me 76 relevant metrics to figure that out.