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We have the best city, but we can't rest on our laurels

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After so many years of being rated the No. 1 city in the entire universe, it took us a little work to digest this new-to-us ranking from U.S. News & World Report. The great state of South Carolina is not No. 1, nor No. 2 or even No. 22. The Palmetto State ranks 42nd in the magazine’s Best States Rankings.


What exactly makes a state Best? Apparently it’s a multifaceted question, and we’ll have to ask Washington. The Evergreen State ranked in the top five for health care, education, economy and infrastructure. Those are good things to be good at, we’ll give them that.

Our best feature? Our economy, which was ranked at No. 16 in the country. That entails business environment, growth and employment in equal thirds. Growth was our top spot among all the subrankings, at No. 8. We do love our forecasts and impacts and development announcements, and it seems to be paying off for us. We’re also pretty fiscally stable, sitting at No. 20 nationwide.  

That’s the good news.

According to the US News & World Report rankings, which are based on multiple metrics and weighted based on what people in the state say is important, we struggle most on crime and corrections, sitting at No. 46. That metric comes from the state’s incarceration rate, juvenile incarceration and racial equality in jailing, combined with the violent crime rate and the property crime rate from 2017.

We were ranked No. 43 for education, which includes higher education and K-12 equally. The metrics for higher ed take in share of citizens with college degrees, how long it takes to earn two- and four-year degrees, college cost, and graduates’ debt burden. The K-12 half of the score measures graduation rates, preschool enrollment and standardized testing scores.

Opportunity for our residents, where we were ranked at No. 41, includes a host of factors. It’s equal parts cost of living and housing affordability; food insecurity, poverty rate, household income and wealth gap; and employment, income and education gaps between races, genders and abilities.

We can certainly see ourselves reflected in these numbers — we aren’t burying our head in the sand. But we don’t see it as a reason to hang our heads; we see it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. A chance to see where we fall short of our peers and look at possible changes.

We’ve already moved up seven spots from dead last in the education category since 2017, and we’re up seven places on infrastructure and opportunity as well, so those are steps in the right direction.

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