A new U.S. News and World Report study ranks the quality of life and the well-being of residents in every state in the nation based on several different factors.

New Jersey comes in next to last.

While the Garden State does well in some categories, including education (2nd) health care (12th) and public safety (4th).

But we rank 49th, or next to last, for our social environment, which includes community engagement, social support and voter participation.

New Jersey does poorly in short-term fiscal stability (50th), budget balancing (49th), government credit rating score (48th) and long term fiscal stability (48th).

The study also ranks the New Jersey state economy as being one of the worst in the country (40th).

According to Rutgers University economist James Hughes, the Garden State’s fiscal woes are nothing new.

“It really goes back, really starting in 2001, when the high-tech bubble burst and we had a small recession,” he said.

“This is a situation that’s really deep into its second decade and there really doesn’t seem to be much change in order going forward.”

He pointed out Jersey’s high cost of living and high taxes certainly contribute to our fiscal woes.

“I think most New Jersey residents really focus on the property tax as a measure of the fiscal capacity of the state, or the fiscal condition of the state."

He noted while everybody is aware of how high property taxes are “most people are not really cognizant of the difficulties of the state finances, or it doesn’t seem to impact their day-to-day life existence.”

He explained most people have heard there’s a big pension and health benefit deficit, but they don’t really pay a lot of attention to this because they’re not directly affected right now.

The state that has the worst quality of life in America is California, followed by New Jersey, Indiana, Illinois and Texas.

The states with the highest quality of life ratings are North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and South Dakota.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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