TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Companies Cutting the Most Jobs

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Technology companies were the largest downsizers in 2014

Planned job cuts among U.S. companies in 2014 totaled 450,531 through November, down 5.8% compared to the same period in 2013. According to global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, this was the lowest count of year-end job cut announcements since 1997.

No company announced more layoffs in 2014 than Hewlett Packard (NYSE: HPQ), which announced a total of 21,000 job cuts. Based on data from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the companies that planned the most job cuts last year.

Click here to see the companies cutting the most jobs.

In some cases, companies shed jobs in an effort to return to profitability or because they become insolvent. However, in an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger explained that this is not the case for most companies. Particularly in a strong economy, many companies are “doing regular strategic evaluation of their business looking for areas of redundancy, [and] looking for ways to make their organization a tighter ship.”

Technology companies were the largest downsizers last year with several long-time stalwarts leading the way. Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), and Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) announced the most job cuts, not only among tech companies, but also overall. The industry as a whole announced more than 58,000 job cuts in 2014, the highest number among all industries. According to Challenger, “technology is a particularly volatile sector in our economy [because] products become obsolete more quickly than they do in some other industries that are slower, safer, and have less opportunity.”

The industry with the second largest planned layoffs in 2014 was retail, with nearly 42,000 job cuts announced. This figure is actually down from 2013, despite layoffs at Sears (NASDAQ: SHLD), as well as Coldwater Creek, which declared bankruptcy in April. Financial companies, too, were among the top companies cutting jobs. JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), for example, was among the 10 companies with the most planned layoffs in 2014.

One factor that often drives job cuts is industry evolution. According to Challenger, this is especially true in the retail sector. “It’s an area of low margins and fierce competition and technology is making a big difference in how consumers are coming to stores,” Challenger said. Retailers are making cuts, he explained, as a result of the changing retail landscape, especially the fact that more shopping is done online.

Other companies cut jobs in an effort to continue to stay competitive. Shareholders invest in companies that they hope will generate higher returns than other companies. In order to provide such returns, companies often restructure their operations to trim costs and increase profits, which can lead to layoffs. Sears Holdings, which has been reporting declining sales and consistent losses in recent years, is undergoing one of the most dramatic such restructurings. CEO Eddie Lampert set up a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to buy Sears stores and lease them back to the company and others. This raised the company’s stock price considerably despite the fact Sears is still losing money.

In some cases, the companies that announced layoffs truly had no choice. For example, Coldwater Creek had to close all of its stores after filing for bankruptcy protection. Not only were shareholders wiped out in the bankruptcy, but also the company had to close all of its stores in order to pay off its creditors, eliminating thousands of jobs in the process.

Challenger Gray & Christmas provided 24/7 Wall St. with all job cut announcements affecting at least 500 positions through 2015. 24/7 Wall St. combined the planned cuts by company to identify the companies that announced the most job cuts last year. We only considered publicly traded American companies. However, job cuts did not need to be entirely within the United States. Some cuts announced last year may not be completed until later this year. Consolidated revenues and employee totals are from each company’s most recent financial report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. If the company did not disclose global headcount for the quarter, figures from its last annual report were used. We relied in part on our previous analysis of Challenger Grey & Christmas data published September 25th. To the extent layoff figures were unchanged from that period, discussions of companies that also appeared in our earlier article were kept the same.

These are the 10 companies cutting the most jobs.

10. Amgen Inc.
> Job cuts: 4,000
> Number of employees: 18,000
> 1yr. share price change: +27.28%

In recent years, biotechnology company Amgen has reduced its global workforce as part of its restructuring plan to focus on drug development. While layoffs in the technology sector more than doubled between the first halves of 2013 and 2014, job cuts in the pharmaceutical industry declined in that time, falling by 15.4%. Despite the industry trend, the company announced in August it would cut 2,900 employees. In October, Amgen announced it would close a research and development facility in Seattle that would result in an additional 1,100 job cuts, bringing the 2014 total to about 4,000. The restructuring plan will reduce the company’s workforce by up to 15% and includes the closure of several facilities in Washington and Colorado. Amgen reported strong earnings in 2013 and in 2014. According to the company, the layoffs are “natural steps in a long-term strategy.”

ALSO READ: 10 States With the Worst Taxes for the Average American

9. Procter & Gamble
> Job cuts: 4,430
> Number of employees: 118,000
> 1yr. share price change: +11.72%

Procter & Gamble announced in early November it would cut 4,430 jobs, the ninth highest number of announced job cuts reviewed. Last year marks the fourth consecutive year the consumer products company has reduced its total workforce. As of 2014, there were 118,000 Procter & Gamble employees, versus 132,000 in 2009. As is the case with many other companies, cost-cutting measures such as layoffs are often part of a strategy to maintain consistent income growth. P&G’s net sales have grown each year since as early as 2012. The company reported net sales of $83.1 billion in the 12 months prior to June 2014. In addition to slashing employment, P&G also announced in August that it would eliminate as many as 100 underperforming brands to further improve results.

8. Sprint Corp.
> Job cuts: 5,000
> Number of employees: 36,000
> 1yr. share price change: -40.27%

Sprint Corporation, one of the nation’s largest cellphone carriers, stated at the end of October it would lay off 5,000 workers for restructuring purposes. Earlier that month Sprint cut 452 jobs at its headquarters in Kansas. Sprint had 36,000 employees at the end of 2014, down from the approximately 38,000 employees it had the year before. Despite the layoffs, Sprint may roughly double its store count in a deal with RadioShack, which recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. If the deal is finalized, Sprint would operate as a store-within-a-store in nearly 2,000 RadioShacks.

7. Intel Corp.
> Job cuts: 5,350
> Number of employees: 106,700
> 1yr. share price change: +35.66%

At the start of 2014, after poor earnings and growth forecasts, Intel announced it would implement cost cutting measures. Part of the measures included plans to reduce its global workforce by 5,350 people, or 5% of its headcount, throughout the year. According to Intel spokesperson Chris Kraeuter, the cuts would primarily consist of “people retiring, redeploying, or leaving voluntarily.” In addition, the chip maker announced in April that it was shutting down its assembly and test operations in Costa Rica. While this eliminated 1,500 jobs, Intel continued to employ more than 1,000 engineering, finance, and human resources workers in the country.

6. Sears Holdings
> Job cuts: 5,400
> Number of employees: 249,000
> 1yr. share price change: -9.32%

While layoffs are not always a sign of weak revenue, retail holding company Sears has been closing stores and shedding employees for years as a result of faltering sales. The company reported revenue of $36.2 billion for the 12 months through February 1, 2014, down by more than $3.6 billion from the previous period. According to Challenger, Gray, & Christmas, Sears announced in October 5,400 job cuts, the sixth largest compared with other U.S. public companies. However, Sears is closing stores so fast that it may be difficult to keep track. In 2014, the company closed 235 stores, most of which were Kmart locations. The layoffs were announced at a time when most retailers were hiring workers for the holiday season. As of the beginning of 2014, Sears had roughly 226,000 U.S. employees, including part-time workers.

ALSO READ: Cities Where Crime is Soaring

5. Coldwater Creek
> Job cuts: 5,500
> Number of employees: N/A
> 1yr. share price change: -92.84%

Women’s apparel retailer Coldwater Creek filed for bankruptcy in April after it was unable to find a buyer for its operations. Shareholders in the company were wiped out as the company began the process of closing its 350 stores and laying off its 5,500 workers. However, there may be a silver lining for at least a few employees. As part of bankruptcy proceedings, other retailers bought a number of Coldwater Creek’s leases. While most employees may be out of luck, customers may be able to soon buy Coldwater Creek merchandise again. Private equity firm Sycamore Partners bought the Coldwater Creek brand name. The new owner relaunched the brand as Coldwater Creek Direct, an online retailer that aims to sell women apparel via a catalog.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME real estate

These Are America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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The ranking illustrates how states perform in the five essential elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical

Alaska led the nation with the highest level of well-being of all states, supplanting North Dakota, which plummeted to 23rd place. West Virginia remains the state with the lowest well-being for the sixth consecutive year.

The 2014 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index measures the well-being of Americans in each state based on interviews conducted between January and December, 2014. This year’s index incorporated a range of metrics categorized into five essential elements of well-being: purpose, social, financial, community, and physical. Based on the well-being index, 24/7 Wall St. examined the states with the highest and lowest scores.

Click here to see the happiest states in America

Click here to see the most miserable states in America

While Gallup’s index is based in part on subjective survey measures, the respondents’ perceptions are often closely tied to outcomes. According to Dan Witters, research director of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, well-being is closely linked to economic indicators and societal outcomes, such as median household income and teen pregnancy rates.

Witters explained that the five essential elements of well-being are interwoven, and a high score in one category can lead to a high score in another. However, this was not guaranteed by any means. All of the 10 happiest states rated better than most in the purpose category, which measures how much residents like their day-to-day lives and how motivated they are to meet their goals. However, in other categories, such as the financial element of well-being, two of the top states overall fared worse than most states.

Physical health, which together with healthy behaviors, was part of the physical element of well-being this year, is an especially important factor contributing to happiness, according to Witters. In fact, examination of healthy behaviors and outcomes measured by government data suggest this is the case.
In states with high well-being scores, residents were less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise regularly. Residents in nine of the happiest states were more likely than most Americans to have an exercise routine of some kind. All but one of the states with the lowest well-being, on the other hand, had more physically inactive residents compared to the national average.

The states with the highest well-being also enjoyed the positive outcomes of healthy behaviors, including lower obesity rates and smaller incidences of other common health problems, while in general the opposite was true for the states with the lowest well-being. High cholesterol, high blood pressure, as well as heart disease-related deaths were all far more common in the states with the lowest well-being.

While money certainly does not buy happiness, financial well-being plays a significant role in happiness. All of the most miserable states had median household incomes far below the national median income of $52,250 in 2013. However, the median household income in only half of the happiest states exceeded the national median income.

The states with the happiest residents also had relatively low unemployment rates, and people reported relatively few days of poor mental health. The unemployment rates in all of the 10 happiest states was less than the national rate of 7.4% in 2013. And nine of these states reported fewer monthly poor mental health days than the national average.

A regional pattern is also evident. According to Witters, while the top and bottom states change regularly from one year to the next, they tend to be in similar parts of the country. Witters said states in New England, the Northern Plains and Mountain West regions, as well as Alaska and Hawaii, generally and regularly report very good well-being. Low well-being, on the other hand, is found “around the Bible Belt…the South and heading north up through the industrial midwest.” Witters described this as “a very consistent pattern.”

“The thing about those southern states,” he said, “that really hurts them is that they do a lousy job taking care of themselves.”

24/7 Wall St. reviewed all 50 U.S. states based on their scores in the Gallup-Healthways 2014 Well-Being Index. Gallup-Healthways calculated a national well-being score as well as one for each state based on interviews conducted between January 2 and December 30, 2014, with a random sample of 176,702 adults. As part of the rank, Gallup combined five separate essential elements of well-being. In addition to the index, 24/7 Wall St. considered data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey, including median household income, poverty rates, and adult educational attainment rates. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we reviewed annual state unemployment rates and median hours worked among, both from 2013. We also reviewed 2013 obesity and teen pregnancy rates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Incidence of heart disease in 2013 is from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The share of the population with low incomes and low access to healthy food comes from the Department of Agriculture’s Food Environment Atlas. Low access is defined as living more than one mile from a supermarket in an urban area or more than 10 miles from a supermarket in a rural area. We also considered state violent crime rates in 2013 from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report Program. Lastly, we used 2012 regional price parity from the Bureau of Economic Analysis as a proxy for cost of living. All other data come from the United Health Foundation’s 2014 report “America’s Health Rankings”.

These are the happiest (and most miserable) states in America.

The Happiest States in America

10. Texas
> Poverty rate: 17.5% (13th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.3% (17th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.9% (15th highest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.2 (9th lowest)

Based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Texas residents had the 10th highest well-being in the nation. Texas residents were among the most likely to be content with their jobs and be motivated to achieve their goals, with the state ranking second in the purpose category, one of five elements of well-being in Gallup’s Index. Texans worked 36.3 hours per week in 2013, the most nationwide. This may reflect in part Texans’ motivation and workplace satisfaction. Texans were not especially healthy, however, with an obesity rate of nearly 31% in 2013 and relatively few residents reporting routine exercise. More than 22% of residents did not have health insurance in 2013, the worst rate nationwide, which may have made it more difficult for Texans than most Americans to get the medical care they need. Despite these poor physical health indicators, nearly 71% of adolescents in the state were vaccinated in 2013, one of the higher rates, and less than 16% of adults were smokers, one of the lower smoking rates reviewed.

ALSO READ: The Worst Paying Jobs for Women

9. New Mexico
> Poverty rate: 21.9% (2nd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.9% (24th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.4% (13th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.7 (24th lowest)

Unlike most states with the happiest residents, a typical household in New Mexico had relatively low income in 2013, earning a median of less than $44,000. The median national household income was $52,250 that year. New Mexico also had an exceptionally high poverty rate, at nearly 22% in 2013, the second highest nationwide. While many New Mexico residents struggled with financial burdens, they tended to be in relatively good physical health. For example, the obesity rate of 26.4% was among the lower rates in the nation. Residents reported relatively few cases of high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well, which likely contributed to a lower incidence of heart disease. There were 147 heart disease-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, the 10th lowest such rate in the country. On Gallup’s survey, New Mexicans rated their physical health and habits fifth best in the country.

8. Utah
> Poverty rate: 12.7% (14th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.4% (4th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 24.1% (4th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.5 (18th lowest)

Utah is one of only a few states where less than one-quarter of adults were obese in 2013. Residents were also the least likely in the nation to report high blood pressure and high cholesterol that year. Utah residents generally reported healthy behaviors, which likely helped contribute to the good health outcomes and the state’s high well-being. Utah adults were the least likely to be smokers, with only 10.3% reporting the habit in 2013. Traditionally low smoking rates may have helped Utah residents stay healthy and out of the hospital. Between 2010 and 2012, there were less than 146 cancer-related deaths per 100,000 people, the lowest rate nationwide. In addition to strong physical health, Utah residents also liked where they lived, felt safe, and reported having pride in their community — the state ranked seventh in the nation in Gallup’s community element of well-being. Like most states scoring well in this category, Utah’s violent crime rate of 209 incidents per 100,000 people in 2013 was among the lowest in the country.

7. Nebraska
> Poverty rate: 13.2% (17th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.9% (3rd lowest)
> Obesity rate: 29.6% (24th highest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.0 (6th lowest)

With an unemployment rate of 3.9% in 2013, the third lowest nationwide, Nebraska residents had the benefit of a relatively strong job market. Nebraskans were also more likely than most Americans to feel content with their jobs, rating their day-to-day contentment and motivation to meet goals — part of the purpose element of well-being — the seventh best nationwide. Workers also reported having just three poor mental health days per month in 2013, the sixth-lowest figure nationwide. While the median household income in Nebraska was slightly lower than the national figure, the cost of living was considerably more affordable than most states. As in most of the happiest states, Nebraska is also a relatively safe state. There were approximately 252 violent crimes per 100,000 people in 2013, one of the lower rates in the country.

6. Colorado
> Poverty rate: 13.0% (16th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.8% (25th highest)
> Obesity rate: 21.3% (the lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.3 (11th lowest)

Colorado retained its 2013 standing on the list of happiest states, with a particularly high ranking in the physical element of well-being this year. The state had the lowest diabetes rate of all states, ranked second lowest in the percentage of the population with high blood pressure, and ranked third lowest in the percentage of residents with high cholesterol. The state also had the lowest obesity rate in the country, at 21.3% of the adult population. Residents were also relatively well-off financially. The state’s 2013 median household income of $58,823 was the 12th highest in the country. In addition, only 8.6% of Colorado households received food stamp benefits in 2013. Colorado households also had better access to services such the Internet, as 79.4% of residents reported having a broadband Internet subscription, the fourth highest percentage in the country.

ALSO READ: States Smoking the Most Smuggled Cigarettes

5. Montana
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (19th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 5.6% (14th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 24.6% (6th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.3 (11th lowest)

As in most states with the happiest residents, Montanans were well educated. Nearly 93% had completed at least high school as of 2013, the third highest rate and considerably higher than the national rate of 86.6%. Montana residents were in exceptionally good physical health, which likely significantly contributed to happiness. Less than one-quarter were obese in 2013, for example, the sixth-lowest rate nationwide. Residents also had relatively low rates of diabetes and high blood pressure. Residents were not especially wealthy, however, earning a median household income of $46,972 in 2013, lower than the national figure of $52,250.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Money

These Are the States With the Worst Taxes for Average Americans

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In these states, higher income leads to decrease in effective tax rate

While a certain degree of income inequality might be expected, the difference between rich and poor Americans has grown dramatically in recent years. As of 2013, the wealthiest 20% of Americans had more income in aggregate than the bottom 80% combined.

State and local tax systems play a significant role in redistributing income among people. The nationwide average effective tax rate for the poorest 20% of Americans was 10.9%, roughly double the 5.4% rate for the top 1%.

When looking at taxes paid as a share of the income earned, all states have a regressive tax system, which means poorer residents are taxed more than the wealthiest ones. The difference in effective tax rates between income groups, however, varies widely between states. According to “Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States,” a report released by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP), Washington has by far the most regressive tax system nationwide. Based on the index score, a ratio calculated from a range of factors to measure income inequality before and after taxes, these are the states with the most unfair tax systems for the average American.

In fact, the poorest 20% of individuals paid at least 12% of their total incomes in state and local taxes in seven of the 10 states with the most regressive tax systems. In contrast, the wealthiest 1% of residents paid no more than 3% in state and local taxes as a share of income in six of the 10 states. In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Meg Wiehe, state tax policy director at ITEP, said that in most states, and these 10 especially, “tax distribution looks very much like a staircase going down, where as your income goes up, your effective tax rate goes down.”

State residents earning average incomes also often bore a higher tax burden compared to the richest residents. The middle 60% of earners in all of the 10 states paid at least three times what the wealthiest 1% paid, as a share of income, in state and local taxes — all of these ratios were also among the highest nationwide. Middle earners in Washington and Florida, the two most regressive taxation states, paid as a share of their income more than 400% what the richest 1% of residents paid as a share of their income.

Often, it’s the presence or absence of a particular kind of tax that determines the extent to which state tax systems are regressive. For example, taxing goods and services consumed daily such as food is especially regressive because food makes up a much larger share of poorer Americans’ income. A graduated income tax is far more progressive, on the other hand. Five of the 10 states with unfair tax systems taxed food at the state and local level. Also, all but one of the 10 states had relatively low or flat income tax rates, and four had no personal income tax.

According to Wiehe, these states “rely heavily on taxes that are paid disproportionately by low- and middle-income households, and have very little reliance on taxes that the top 1% or top 5% would be responsible for paying.” In other words, states have to make up for that revenue in one way or another. Nationwide, personal and corporate income taxes accounted for an average of nearly 18% of state revenue. Yet in five of the 10 states, the contribution to revenue from income taxes was less than 5%. And while sales and excise taxes accounted for less than one quarter of state revenue on average across the nation, they accounted for more than 30% of revenue in six of the 10 states with the most regressive tax policies.

While it is difficult to know the exact degree that these tax policies impact income inequality, the states with the most regressive tax systems also had relatively uneven income distribution even before taxes were applied. In six of the 10 states, the 2013 Gini coefficient — which has values between zero and one, where one means all income belongs to a single person and zero means uniform income distribution — was higher than in the majority of states.

To identify the 10 states with the worst tax systems for average Americans, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed ITEP’s Tax Inequality Index scores for the 50 states. The index incorporated effective tax rates for the poorest 20%, middle 60%, top 1%, as well as ratios comparing these rates, among other measures. Effective tax rates were based on total state and local taxes as a share of family income for non-elderly taxpayers in all 50 states. ITEP’s model used 2012 income figures, and considered tax laws from 2014 and 2015. Contributions to state revenue by tax type were also provided by ITEP. We reviewed the Gini coefficient from 2013 — which is based on pre-tax income — as well as additional economic data from the Census Bureau’s 2013 American Community Survey.

These are the states with the worst taxes for the average American.

10. Indiana
> ITEP index score: -6.6%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 12.0% (8th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 5.2% (23rd highest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.46 (17th lowest)

A negative score on the ITEP index means state residents’ incomes were less equal after taxes than they were before taxes. With a score of -6.6%, Indiana’s tax system was the 10th most regressive among all states. While what makes a tax code fair is a contentious issue, middle class families are often among the hardest-hit by regressive tax policies. Indiana households who earned between $34,000 and $56,000 paid 10.8% of their combined income in state and local taxes, the fourth highest tax burden among that income group nationwide. Indiana’s taxation policies may have had an effect on income inequality in the state. Indiana’s Gini coefficient in 2013 had grown at nearly the fastest pace from 2009.

9. Kansas
> ITEP index score: -6.9%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 11.1% (13th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 3.6% (11th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.46 (20th lowest)

While Kansas has a graduated income tax structure — widely regarded as a progressive feature in a tax code — the state has no corporate income tax. This means that the vast majority of businesses in the state are exempt from paying state taxes. Since business owners tend to have relatively high incomes, wealthier Kansas residents have likely benefited from this arrangement. As a share of income, the poorest families in Kansas paid 310% what the wealthiest 1% of families paid in state and local taxes, the ninth highest such ratio nationwide. As in many states, incomes among the wealthiest Kansas residents grew between 2009 and 2013, while incomes among poorer residents shrank. The tax code in Kansas will likely remain relatively unfair to poorer residents. The state’s aggressive income tax cuts of 2012 and 2013 resulted in a budget shortfall. To address the shortfall, Governor Sam Brownback proposed earlier this year to raise several excise taxes.

8. Arizona
> ITEP index score: -7.1%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 12.5% (5th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 4.6% (19th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.47 (20th highest)

Families in Arizona earning $22,000 or less in 2012 paid 12.5% of their incomes in state and local taxes, the fifth highest rate for that income group in the country. The wealthiest 1% of Arizona households were subject to an effective tax rate of only 4.6%, which was also smaller than the average tax rate for the wealthiest people across the nation of 5.4%. As in most states ITEP found to have unfair tax systems, sales and excise taxes were considered particularly regressive. The poorest Arizona residents paid more than 8% of their incomes in general sales and excise taxes, while the wealthiest 1% paid just 1% of their incomes in such taxes. States identified as having regressive tax codes did not necessarily have dramatic income inequality. Arizona, however, had a higher Gini coefficient than that of most states, and 18.6% of residents lived in poverty in 2013, among the highest poverty rates nationwide.

7. Tennessee
> ITEP index score: -7.3%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 10.9% (14th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 3.0% (10th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.48 (12th highest)

Like in several other states reviewed, Tennessee does not have an individual state income tax on earnings, although residents are required to pay a 6% tax on dividends and interest payments. While the lack of an income tax lowers tax burdens on all residents, it does not do so equally. As a share of income, Tennessee’s poorest 20% of households paid 366% what the state’s wealthiest 1% paid in state and local taxes, the seventh largest such discrepancy nationwide. The income group earning close to average incomes was also disproportionately taxed. The middle 60% of earners in the state paid 280% what the wealthiest 1% paid as a share of income, also the seventh highest such percentage in the country. Incomes among Tennessee’s wealthiest households grew by nearly 3% between 2009 and 2013, versus the comparable national growth rate of 0.4%. Among the nation’s less wealthy earners, including those in Tennessee, incomes shrank.

6. Pennsylvania
> ITEP index score: -7.3%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 12.0% (8th highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 4.2% (14th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.47 (18th highest)

General sales and excise taxes on everyday goods such as gas are considered regressive because while everyone consumes very similar quantities, not everyone has similar incomes. Pennsylvania, which has a long-term plan to raise taxes to repair its transportation infrastructure, levies a tax of 41.8 cents per gallon of gasoline, the fifth highest rate in the nation. Residents with the lowest 20% of incomes paid 5.8% of their incomes on sales and excise taxes like these, versus the comparable rate of 0.6% for the state’s wealthiest residents. Similarly, while property taxes tend to be levied more proportionately across the nation, Pennsylvania’s poorest households paid nearly 4% of their income on their homes, while the wealthiest 1% paid just 1.6%. This was a relatively large gap compared to other states. Since the bulk of school funding comes from property taxes, such disparity has prompted some to argue that Pennsylvania children receive an “education by zip code.”

5. Illinois
> ITEP index score: -8.1%
> Effective tax rate lowest 20%: 13.2% (3rd highest)
> Effective tax rate top 1%: 4.6% (19th lowest)
> 2013 Gini coefficient (pre-tax): 0.48 (8th highest)

The poorest 20% of Illinois households paid 13.2% of their incomes in state and local taxes, and the middle 60% of earners paid 10.9% of their incomes, both nearly the highest effective tax rates respectively. Meanwhile, the state’s wealthiest residents paid 4.6% of their incomes in state and local taxes, one of the lower effective tax rates. Looking just at income tax, the wealthiest 1% paid a slightly higher effective income tax rate than the poorest 20% of state households. However, Illinois uses a flat income tax rate, which is widely considered to be a regressive feature. The state’s wealthiest residents had especially high incomes. A typical Illinois household in the top quintile earned more than $200,000 in 2013, the ninth highest compared to the wealthiest households in other states.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Careers & Workplace

These Are the Worst Paying Jobs for Women

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Research found that pay gaps between men and women are often wider in traditionally high-paying occupations

A full-time female employee earned 82.5% of what a man earned in 2014, up considerably from 1979, when women made an estimated 62% of what men did. While this is certainly an improvement, progress has slowed between 2000 and 2014.

In many of the largest occupations in the country, women earn close to what men do on a weekly basis. In others, however, the disparity remains closer to the 1979 levels. Median weekly earnings among female workers in all of the 10 occupations with the widest gender pay gap were less than three-quarters of what males earned. The typical female personal financial advisor brought in just 61.3% of her male counterpart’s earnings in 2014, the widest pay gap among all occupations reviewed.

Based on the Current Population Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 10 occupations where the median weekly full-time earnings among women was the smallest as a percent of men’s earnings.

According to Ariane Hegewisch, a study director at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, pay gaps between men and women are often wider in traditionally high-paying occupations. Six of the 10 occupations with the widest pay gaps had median weekly earnings of more than $1,100, and were all among the higher weekly earnings figures.

These relatively high-paying jobs tend to have much more flexible pay packages that can include such extra incomes as commissions, bonuses, and merit pay. These advantages frequently favor males over females. Six of the 10 occupations had commission-based pay structures, available bonuses, merit-based pay such as tips, or a combination of the three.

These extra earnings are most common in financial occupations. Personal financial advisors, financial services sales agents, and financial managers all had among the 10 worst pay gaps, as well as relatively high median weekly earnings for men and women. The more forms of extra earnings available, Hegewisch explained, “the more scope there is for bias and discrimination.”

How well-represented females are in a particular occupation’s workforce is also a factor contributing to the pay gap. The occupations with the smallest pay gaps tend to have higher proportions of female workers. Alternatively, in six of the 10 occupations with the worst pay gaps, females were a minority of the workforce in 2014.

Hegewisch explained that men working in occupations with fewer men experience less discrimination than women working in male-dominated fields. Discrimination can take several forms. For example, it can be direct when a person is treated differently based on a personal characteristic protected by law. Discrimination can occur indirectly, when a practice or condition is implemented that will have the effect of illegitimate discrimination.

The gender composition of the workforce has changed over the last several decades, but the demands of both career and motherhood remain the same. Jobs such as doctors pay women less in part because women often choose specialties that require fewer hours and can accommodate family responsibilities. For example surgeons, who can “work 80-hour weeks, or 14 hours in a stretch” and receive more money as a result, are disproportionately men, Hegewisch said.

However, even where females seem to dominate a speciality — such as pediatrics — they still earn less than male doctors, according to a 2010 report from the Center for Research on Gender in the Professions. And, the Center concluded, “Women also earn less than men in the higher paying specialties. For example, women gastroenterologists make 79% of what their male counterparts earn.”

To identify the 10 occupations with the largest gender wage gap, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ release of earnings data from the Current Population Survey (CPS) for 2014. The data are based on weekly earnings of both men and women working at least 35 hours a week year-round. We considered only occupations not broken out into more specific categories by the CPS. We also excluded those occupations not found in the BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH). As the BLS explained, the OOH provides much greater detail and more data for occupations.

These are the jobs with the largest pay gaps between men and women.

10. Driver/sales workers and truck drivers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 73.7%
> Women median weekly earnings: $545
> Men median weekly earnings: $739
> Number of workers: 2,658,000

There were more than 2.6 million delivery truck drivers and driver/sales workers in 2014, one of the largest occupations in the nation. The job was also predominantly male. Just 4% of such drivers were female in 2014, nearly the lowest proportion among all occupations. As Hegewisch explained in an interview with 24/7 Wall St., women are often expected to take on more family responsibilities, which often prevents them from taking such jobs. Truck drivers are frequently on the road for long stretches at a time, and work demanding hours. The low percentage of females entering the truck driving profession may account in part for the wide pay gap. Women earned 73.7% of what male drivers made in 2014, the 10th largest pay gap among occupations reviewed.

9. Real estate brokers and sales agents
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 73.3%
> Women median weekly earnings: $726
> Men median weekly earnings: $991
> Number of workers: 416,000

Real estate brokers are usually licensed to manage their own real estate businesses, while sales agents usually work with a broker. Both facilitate real estate deals between property owners and interested parties and are usually paid commissions. A typical female real estate broker earned $726 per week in 2014, less than 74% of the median weekly earnings of men. This was the ninth largest gender wage gap among occupations reviewed. By contrast, full-time female workers across all occupations earned 82.5% of what men earned nationwide. Although less male-dominated professions tended to have less pronounced wage gaps between men and women, this was not the case in this profession. While 55% of real estate brokers and sales agents were female in 2014, the pay gap was still among the worst nationwide.

8. Bartenders
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 72.4%
> Women median weekly earnings: $459
> Men median weekly earnings: $634
> Number of workers: 216,000

Wide pay gaps between men and women are prevalent in traditionally high-paying occupations, yet bartenders are not especially well paid — as is the case in most restaurant jobs. Bartenders’ median weekly earnings of $522 in 2014 were lower than the majority of occupations reviewed. A typical female bartender earned $459 a week, 72.4% of the median weekly earnings among men in 2014. The pay gap among bartenders has also widened considerably more than most occupations since 2005, when women earned 98.8% of what men earned. Last year, 52% of bartenders were women, one of the higher proportions among occupations reviewed.

7. Human resource managers
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 71.2%
> Women median weekly earnings: $1,300
> Men median weekly earnings: $1,827
> Number of workers: 234,000

Human resource managers oversee an organization’s hiring process and related administrative functions. More than three-quarters of human resource managers were women in 2014, one of the highest female workforce compositions among all occupations. Women in the profession were also relatively well paid, with median weekly earnings of $1,300 in 2014, the seventh highest such figure among women. Yet male human resource managers earned significantly more — with median weekly earnings of $1,827 in 2014, it was one of the highest weekly paychecks among men in all occupations.

6. Retail salespersons
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 70.3%
> Women median weekly earnings: $491
> Men median weekly earnings: $698
> Number of workers: 1,870,000

The largest pay gaps tended to be in high-paying occupations. Retail sales jobs, however, which require low levels of education, were one of the worst paying. The median weekly pay for both sexes in the occupation was $596 in 2014, one of the lower figures among all occupations. While a typical salesman earned $698 per week, a typical saleswoman earned $491 per week in 2014, or 70.3% of what men earned. This was the sixth largest pay gap, although it had improved substantially from 2005, when women earned 66.2% of what men earned. The improvement in the occupation was better than that of the nation. Women also made up a minority of salespeople in the United States last year. Of the nearly 1.9 million retail salespersons, fewer than 40% were female, one of the lower proportions.

5. Top executives
> Women’s earnings as pct. of men’s: 70.0%
> Women median weekly earnings: $1,572
> Men median weekly earnings: $2,246
> Number of workers: 1,077,000

Top executives are responsible for strategies and policies that move an organization toward its goals by planning, directing, and coordinating the operations of their companies. They are usually a company’s highest earners. There were almost three times as many men as women in this occupation in 2014, the second highest ratio among the 10 jobs with the highest pay gaps. Men also earned nearly 43% more than women in the same position. Male CEOs had median weekly earnings of $2,246, the highest among men in all occupations reviewed. Earnings for all CEOs were also the highest compared to all occupations.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Economy

These Are the States Where the Middle Class Is Disappearing

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The average income among middle class families shrank by 4.3% between 2009 and 2013

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The American economy is by many measures well on the road to full recovery. The national unemployment rate was 6.2% in 2013, down from 9.3% in 2009; U.S. gross domestic product grew 5% in the third quarter of 2014; and the S&P 500 recently reached its all time high. And yet the middle class, which historically was the driver of economic growth, is falling behind. The average income among middle class families shrank by 4.3% between 2009 and 2013, while incomes among the wealthiest 20% of American households grew by 0.4%.

Based on average pre-tax income earned by the third quintile, or the middle 20% of earners in each state, middle class incomes in California declined the most in the country. Incomes among middle class Californian households fell by nearly 7% between 2009 and 2013, while income among the state’s fifth quintile, or the top 20% of state earners, grew by 1.3%. Based on an analysis of household incomes among America’s middle class, these are the states where the middle class is suffering the most.

According to Joe Valenti, director of asset building at the Center for American Progress, the American middle class is essential for economic growth because middle income families are spending relatively large shares of their incomes on goods and services. “An additional dollar in the hands of a middle income earner is going to drive a lot more spending than an additional dollar in the hands of someone in that top quintile,” Valenti said. While households in the top quintile are able to spend enormous sums of money, “at some point there’s only so much that an individual can spend, even on all different kinds of luxury goods.”

While the middle class is the most important cohort in terms of spending and has in the past been essential for economic growth, middle income families have been the victims of wage stagnation. Valenti argued that as early as the 1970s, American companies started becoming much more productive. However, because of “a decoupling of productivity and wages,” wages among many workers have remained stagnant, and many in the middle class “have not been able to reap the benefits of higher productivity,” Valenti explained. Instead, returns from higher productivity have gone to owners and investors and not to the workers, he said. Many of the beneficiaries of these returns are likely part of the wealthiest 20% of households, whose incomes have grown in recent years.

Much of the income growth among the highest earning households is likely due to stock market gains. As Thomas Piketty argues in his book, “Capital in the 21st Century,” income inequality results from a higher return on capital — money used to make more money in the stock market or other revenue-generating assets — than wage and GDP growth. With the rich holding a disproportionate share of money in the stock market, their incomes have recovered much faster than those of middle class workers.

In all 10 of the states on this list, the share of total income earned by the bottom 80% of households fell between 2009 and 2013 and was redistributed to the highest quintile. The top 20% of U.S. households held more than 51% of total income in 2013, up 1.14 percentage points from 2009. Even among top earners, income was not evenly distributed. Over that five-year period, the top 5% of households accounted for nearly 75% of income gains in the top 20% of earners.

Income from capital gains may partly explain why the income distribution has skewed towards the rich in recent years. “We have seen the stock market recover quite well for many Americans who do have access to the market and who are investors,” Valenti said. Meanwhile, average workers do not.

According to data collected by Piketty, the average capital gain income of households in the bottom 90% was $558 in 2012. The average capital gains of the top 10% of households was nearly $30,000. And the comparable figure for the top 1% of U.S. households was a whopping $242,000 in 2012.

Several other factors, such as union membership rates and a particular state’s tax climate, such as no income tax or higher sales taxes, can also affect the redistribution of wealth across the nation. “Traditionally, union organizing has stepped in when policy makers have been unwilling to,” Valenti said. For example, depending on the union’s size and its sway, “policy makers may not feel the same pressure to pass or increase a minimum wage” if unions can negotiate a wage increase on their own.

While union organizing was a major component of the middle class’ formation in America after World War II, the level of labor force participation in unions fell from 12.4% in 2009 to 11.3% in 2013. In some states the decline was even more pronounced. Oregon’s union membership, for example, fell by 3.3%, the second largest decrease nationwide.

To determine the states where the middle class is suffering the most, 24/7 Wall St. used data on the average pre-tax income earned by each income quintile from the U.S. Census Bureau. We defined middle class as the third quintile, or the middle 20% of earners. We examined the growth in average incomes in the third and fifth quintiles between 2009 and 2013 to identify income trends in the middle and upper class. The final list was composed of states where middle class incomes fell by more than 4.3% and fifth quintile incomes rose by more than 0.4%, the national aver. Both benchmark figures reflect the national change of their respective quintiles. Because Census income data reflect pre-tax levels, they may overstate the degree of income inequality in the poorer quintiles. However, it is unlikely that the tax burden of the third quintile is significant enough to skew the data.

We also looked at data on the share of aggregate income by quintile from the Census Bureau, and how that share changed between 2009 and 2013. Also from the Census Bureau, we reviewed poverty rates, the share of households making less than $10,000 a year, as well as the share of households making more than $200,000 a year. All data are from 2009 to 2013. Additionally, we considered the Gini coefficient. The Gini coefficient indicates the degree to which an area’s incomes deviate from a perfectly equal income distribution. Scaled between 0 and 1, a coefficient of 0 represents perfectly equal incomes among all people. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we looked at annual unemployment rates from 2009 and 2013. The percentage of non-agricultural employees who identify as members of a union came from Unionstats.org. Tax data come from the Tax Foundation’s 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index.

These are the states where the middle class is dying.

10. Massachusetts
> Middle income growth 2009-2013: -4.4%
> Fifth quintile income growth 2009-2013: 1.3%
> Fifth quintile share of income: 51.2%
> Middle class household income: $66,974 (6th highest)

Although the average income of a middle class household in Massachusetts was $14,000 above the national level in 2013, it had nevertheless declined by more than 4% since 2009. By contrast, incomes of the wealthiest 20% of households in the state grew by 1.3% between 2009 and 2013 to $235,246. Nationally, income of the top quintile grew by only 0.4% over the same period. The top quintile of Massachusetts households accounted for more than 51% of the state’s total income in 2013, a substantial increase from 2009. The declining share of middle class income may be related to the loss of worker bargaining power. The percentage of employees who were union members fell from 16.7% in 2009 to 13.6% in 2013, the fourth largest decline in the country.

9. Indiana

> Middle income growth 2009-2013: -4.4%
> Fifth quintile income growth 2009-2013: 2.6%
> Fifth quintile share of income: 49.0%
> Middle class household income: $47,680 (17th lowest)

Middle class households in Indiana had an average income of $47,680 in 2013, down 4.4% from 2009. As in most of the nation, even as the income of middle class households declined, the income among Indiana’s highest earners grew. Yet, just 2.6% of households earned more than $200,000 in 2013, roughly half the comparable national figure. While wealthy Indiana residents had among the lower incomes compared to their nationwide peers, average incomes in the highest quintile grew by more than 2.5% between 2009 and 2013, one of the faster growth rates. As a result, the state’s Gini coefficient, a measure of income inequality, worsened at a faster pace than in most states over that time, moving to the fourth highest nationwide in 2013.

8. Oregon
> Middle income growth 2009-2013: -4.6%
> Fifth quintile income growth 2009-2013: 1.1%
> Fifth quintile share of income: 49.4%
> Middle class household income: $50,425 (23rd lowest)

Oregon’s unemployment rate dropped by 3.4 percentage points to 7.7% in 2013, only slightly higher than the national unemployment rate and a better improvement than in most states. Despite the job market gains, however, income inequality has been getting worse in the state. The highest earning 20% of Oregon households had an average income of nearly $167,000 in 2013, up 1.1% from 2009. Meanwhile, the income of a typical middle class Oregon household fell by 4.6% between 2009 and 2013, more than the comparable national decline of 4.3%. Union membership, which is often associated with middle class health, fell by 3.3% over that time, three times the nationwide decline and the second-highest figure among all states. At the beginning of this year, Oregon raised its minimum wage to $9.25 an hour, one of the highest minimum wages nationwide. Many have argued that raising the minimum wage is essential to addressing income inequality.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME real estate

These Are the Best States to Grow Old In

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The list considered income, health, labor, and environmental indicators to rank Utah at the top

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The U.S. elderly population is growing rapidly. The number of Americans 65 and older grew from 35 million in 2000 to 41.4 million in 2011 and to an estimated 44.7 million in 2013. This trend is expected to continue as members of the baby boomer generation reach retirement age.

While it can be difficult to grow old in some U.S. states, life for seniors is often far worse in many other countries. Still, the United States will face increasingly large challenges. In the coming years, state officials, families, and individuals will need to pay more attention to the needs of the elderly — to improve medical care, access to services, infrastructure, or other amenities increasingly necessary late in life.

HelpAge International evaluates each year the social and economic well-being of elderly country residents in its Global AgeWatch Index. Last year, the United States was among the better places to grow old in the world, at eighth place. However, domestically, each state offers a very different quality of life for its older residents. Based on an independent analysis by 24/7 Wall St., which incorporated a range of income, health, labor, and environmental indicators, Utah is the best state in which to grow old, while Mississippi is the worst.

To be considered among the best states to grow old, senior citizens in the states had to have relatively strong income security, as measured by several indicators. While the national median income among families with a head of household 65 and older was $37,847 in 2013, comparable incomes in eight of the best states to grow old, for example, exceeded $40,000 in 2013. A typical elderly household in Hawaii led the nation in 2013 with a median income of $55,650.

Retirees often have fixed income, as they begin to tap into their savings and collect social security. Kate Bunting, CEO of AgeWatch USA, explained that, “It is really important for older people to have reliable access to a guaranteed income.” More than 90% of Americans 65 and older in the vast majority of all states received social security income in 2013. The average monthly social security benefit of $1,294, however, was likely not enough for many seniors.

As a result, many older Americans relied on non-social security income, such as withdrawals from 401Ks and savings as a supplement. In 2013, 47.9% of Americans 65 and older had such supplemental retirement incomes. More than 50% of older residents in four of the best states to grow old had such incomes. At stake, according to Bunting, is the elderly’s “ability to eat nutritious foods, which impacts their health, and their ability to access other critical services.”

With lower, and often fixed, incomes, elderly Americans are vulnerable financially. In addition, age often brings a host of health problems, causing greater reliance on medical and accessibility services. To determine how the states fare when it comes to health care, we examined health services and outcomes. In the best states, life expectancy was relatively high. In eight of the 10 states, it was at least 80 years.

A good education, which can lead to employment opportunities and higher incomes, is also an indication of well-being. While less than one-quarter of Americans 65 and older had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, at least 28% of seniors in seven of the best states had attained such a level of education. More than 34% of Colorado’s elderly population were college-educated as of 2013, the highest rate nationwide.

As older people tend to be more vulnerable to criminals, the best states to grow old also needed to be relatively safe. In all of the 10 states, the violent crime in 2013 was less than 300 incidents per 100,000 people, all among the lower rates reviewed.

In addition, policies often shape the quality of life for a state’s elderly population. Smart Growth America rated state-level infrastructure policies and their effectiveness in serving all residents, including the elderly. While many states had not passed any such policies, a majority of the best states to grow old had done so in recent years. Bunting suggested that as the aging population grows, it will become increasingly “important that you have the right kinds of policies in place that help support a quality old age.” Adapting to these demographic patterns through age-friendly policy, Bunting continued, is “important and worthwhile to do, no matter what age you are.”

These are the best states to grow old.

10. Massachusetts
> Median household income (65+): $40,020 (15th highest)
> Pct. with a disability (65+): 34.1% (10th lowest)
> Pct. with a bachelor’s degree or higher (65+): 29.2% (7th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 404.0 per 100,000 residents (16th highest)

Based on income, health, labor, and environmental indicators, Massachusetts is the 10th best state to grow old. In particular, Massachusetts’ elderly population has the benefit of an exceptionally strong health care system. In a state where the vast majority of residents were insured in 2013, less than 0.5% of elderly residents aged 65 and over were not, among the lowest rate in the country. Older Massachusetts residents are also relatively well educated. Nearly 30% had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, one of the higher rates. Also, as in a majority of the best states to grow old, Massachusetts’ policies are rated favorably for considering the needs of seniors and other groups that require more services. In particular, state officials introduced a directive that would require all public transportation land use plans to include features necessary to offer greater access for people of all capabilities.

9. Washington
> Median household income (65+): $42,287 (12th highest)
> Pct. with a disability (65+): 37.4% (17th highest)
> Pct. with a bachelor’s degree or higher (65+): 29.8% (5th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 277.9 per 100,000 residents (21st lowest)

Less than 48% of America’s population 65 and older had some form of retirement income, excluding social security benefits. In Washington, nearly 53% of elderly residents had retirement incomes to supplement their social security benefits, one of the highest proportions among all states. In addition to relatively strong income security, seniors living in Washington rated their accessibility to services an 8.9 out of 10, better than how seniors rated their access in all other states. Older Washington residents were also well-educated compared to their peers in other states. Nearly 30% of people 65 and older in Washington had at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, one of the highest rates in the country.

8. Connecticut
> Median household income (65+): $44,240 (7th highest)
> Pct. with a disability (65+): 32.1% (2nd lowest)
> Pct. with a bachelor’s degree or higher (65+): 28.3% (11th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 254.5 per 100,000 residents (15th lowest)

Connecticut residents were expected to live nearly 81 years in 2011, the third highest life expectancy in the country. Just 32.1% of older Connecticut residents had a disability as of 2013, nearly the lowest rate. Physical health among older residents likely contributed to longer lives. According to a recent OECD study, Connecticut residents rated their general health a 7.8 out of 10. Also, the median household income among Connecticut elderly residents was more than $44,000, well above the national median of $37,847 in that age group. While the relationship between income and health is hotly debated by experts, high incomes likely allow older residents greater access to services.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Companies

These Are America’s Fastest Growing Beer Brands

Full bottles of lager await to be loaded into cases at the Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on June 29, 2005.
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Full bottles of lager await to be loaded into cases at the Yuengling brewery in Pottsville, Pennsylvania on June 29, 2005.

All of these eight brands reported a 20% or more increase in shipments in the five years through 2013

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

American beer sales have followed a downward trend in recent years. After reaching a peak of 219 million barrels in 2008, total U.S. shipments have declined to just 211.7 million barrels in 2013. Yet, the beer industry is by no means dying. While some beer brands have faltered, others have found tremendous success.

Although some of America’s top brewers own some faltering brands, they also own some of the fastest growing ones. Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE: BUD), for example, produces Bud Ice, Michelob Ultra, and Stella Artois, all of which shipped considerably more barrels last year than they did in 2008. According to data provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights, American barrel shipments of eight major brands increased by more than 20% between 2008 and 2013. Dos Equis led the beer industry, shipping 116.6% more barrels in 2013 compared to 2008. Modelo Especial, which had the second highest growth rate of barrels shipped over that period, led the industry in nominal terms, shipping nearly 2 million more barrels last year compared to 2008.

According to Eric Shepard, executive editor at Beer Marketer’s Insights, these beers do not share any single explanatory factor. Advertising, for example, is a major component in the success of a brand. However, just as “a lot of the most heavily advertised brands are at the bottom,” Shepard said, brands with little to no advertising are at the among the fastest growers.

As Shepherd explained, some customers have been moving to wine and spirits, while others have been switching to imported beer, particularly Mexican imports. Shipments of Mexican brands Dos Equis and Modelo Especial more than doubled in the five years through 2013. Modelo Especial in particular reflects the growing “power of the Hispanic market,” Shepard said, as it has run little to no english-language advertising.

Craft beers have largely bucked the overall downtrend in beer sales. From 2008 to 2013, shipments of craft beer rose by 80.1% to a total of more than 16 million barrels, or 7.6% of the U.S. beer market. While the craft beer category now outsells Budweiser, it remains a relatively niche market. For comparison, the nation’s top-selling brand, Bud Light, shipped 38 million barrels in 2013, accounting for 18% of all beer shipments.

Several of the fastest-growing beers, however, have clearly benefited from their association with craft brewing. Blue Moon, for instance, is marketed as part of MillerCoors’ craft beer category. In addition, “Blue Moon is riding the wave of American consumers seeking more flavorful beers,” Shepard said.

To identify the eight fastest growing beer brands, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed figures provided by Beer Marketer’s Insights for all brands with more than 1 million barrels shipped in 2008. All of these eight brands reported a 20% or more increase in shipments in the five years through 2013.

These are the fastest growing beer brands in America.

8. Michelob Ultra
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 21.5%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch Inbev
> Barrels shipped (2013): 4,100,000

Michelob Ultra shipments increased 21.5% between 2008 and last year, from 3.37 million barrels in 2008 to 4.10 million in 2013, the eighth largest increase. The Canadian light beer is advertised as low carb, low calorie beer, which may have helped boost its popularity. According to Beer Marketer’s Insights, the light beer category accounts for most of America’s top-selling beers, as well as for 35% of total beer sales nationwide. Yet, as Shepherd stated, Michelob Ultra has succeeded where many other premium light brands have suffered. Michelob Ultra had nearly 2% of the market in 2013.

7. Bud Ice
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 26.9%
> Brewer: Anheuser-Busch InBev
> Barrels shipped (2013): 2,125,000

According to Anheuser-Busch, Bud Ice is produced using an “exclusive ice-brewing process” during which the beer’s temperature is taken below freezing. While reviewers on online beer rating site Beer Advocate rated the beer “awful,” it doesn’t seem Bud Ice is intended to compete with the best-tasting beers. Instead, ice beers generally have higher alcohol content and cost less than other varieties. Bud Ice contains 5.5% alcohol, versus Bud Light’s 4.2% alcohol content. Compared to 2008, Anheuser-Busch shipped 450,000 more barrels of Bud Ice last year, an increase of 26.9%.

6. Yuengling Lager
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 34.2%
> Brewer: D.G. Yuengling & Son
> Barrels shipped (2013): 2,180,000

Based in Pennsylvania, Yuengling, which can trace its roots to 1829, touts being America’s oldest brewery. While several of the fastest growing beers in America are produced by much larger foreign-owned brewers, Yuengling remains U.S.-based and was the largest such brewer in the country as of 2012. Yuengling Lager shipments last year were up 34.2% from 2008, and its market share improved to 1.0% from 0.7%. Unlike several other fast-growing brands, Yuengling has succeeded with relatively little advertising. The recent growth was due to a combination of strengths in its home markets, as well as strong results from recent expansion efforts.

5. PBR
> Sales growth (2008-2013): 71.5%
> Brewer: Pabst Brewing Company
> Barrels shipped (2013): 2,710,000

Pabst Blue Ribbon sales have grown dramatically over the last decade, a trend strangely unassociated with any specific effort from the company. Since the brewer has spent much less on advertising than competitors such as Budweiser, Bud Light, and Coors Light, PBR’s ascendance is still largely inexplicable. To add to the confusion, these beers also all have a fairly similar taste. The New York Times suggested in 2003 that PBR’s customer base has grown precisely because of the lack of major marketing support. Regardless of the reason, the brand seems to have captured a coolness factor that sells beer quite well. Between 2008 and last year, PBR shipments grew 71.5%.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME real estate

These Are the Cities With the Largest Homes

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Not so surprisingly, the cities with the largest homes are on the whole more sparsely populated than major urban cities in the U.S.

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

American families tend to spend about a third of their annual income on housing. Yet, depending on their location and the level of the family’s income, home sizes can vary widely. Based on data from property listings website Realtor.com, the largest homes in the U.S. are located in the Provo-Orem, Utah metropolitan statistical area, with a median home containing nearly 2,000 square feet.

Areas with the largest median home sizes also had among the nation’s higher estimated median home prices. Homes in seven of the 10 urban areas had median prices of more than $200,000 as of November 2014. A typical home in Boulder, Colorado cost $380,000, the 14th highest estimated median home price among all large metro areas.

While it is not particularly surprising that larger homes cost more, in many spacious homes were also pricier by square foot. In seven of the 10 cities the median price per square foot of property was in the top half of all metro areas reviewed, at over $105.

Relatively high incomes are required to afford these larger homes. All of the areas with the largest homes had median household incomes well above the national figure of $52,250 in 2013. Residents of Boulder were particularly wealthy, with a median household income of more than $71,000 last year.

While large urban areas tend to be relatively densely populated, the areas with the largest homes are on the whole more sparsely populated. The population density was well below the average across all metro areas of 6,321 people per square mile in all of these areas. Raleigh, North Carolina had just over 1,850 residents per square mile, one of the lower densities nationwide. By contrast, the areas surrounding Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City all had well over 10,000 people per square mile.

To identify the cities with the largest houses, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed median home square footage in the 200 largest core-based statistical area (CBSA) from Realtor.com. CBSAs are larger than most other geographies organized by the Census Bureau, and they often include several metropolitan areas. Median household income and educational attainment rates came from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Figures on population density are from the 2010 Census. Metropolitan area names and boundaries may have changed slightly since the data was collected. Unemployment rates came from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and are for October 2014.

These are the cities with the largest homes.

10. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas
> Median square feet: 1,828
> Median estimated price: $150,000 (88th lowest)
> Median household income: $57,398 (62nd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.8%

The living space of a typical house in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was 1,828 square feet, the 10th largest median home size in the nation. Most metro areas with the most spacious homes are relatively sparsely populated — perhaps freeing space for larger construction projects. Less 4,000 people lived in a square mile in Dallas in 2010, among the lower population densities. By contrast, the average metro area had 6,321 people per square mile. High incomes also likely explain the area’s large homes. A typical area household earned $57,398 last year, versus the national median household income of $52,250. This figure was also third highest among the 25 metro areas in Texas.

9. Austin-Round Rock, Texas
> Median square feet: 1,837
> Median estimated price: $207,000 (57th highest)
> Median household income: $61,750 (32nd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.0%

As in several other areas in Texas, Austin area residents seem to prefer larger homes compared to most Americans. A typical house in the region contained 1,837 square feet of living space. The median price of $207,000, however, was on the high end. The area is home to some of the state’s wealthiest and most well-educated residents. A typical household brought in $61,750 last year, the second-highest figure in for a metro area the state. Also, 41.5% of adults had attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of last year, one of the highest rates nationwide and the highest rate in Texas. The unemployment rate was also well below the national unemployment rate, at just 4.0%.

8. Fort Collins, CO
> Median square feet: 1,851
> Median estimated price: $272,000 (29th highest)
> Median household income: $59,052 (50th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.0%

The large homes in Fort Collins reflect the area’s prosperity. Just 3.0% of the area’s workforce was unemployed in October, far below the national rate. Area residents were also well-educated, with 43.3% having attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013. The strong economy and well-educated populace helped raise incomes in the area, which in turn may have afforded residents the luxury of larger homes. A median home was quite spacious, with more than 1,850 square feet. Fort Collins’s was relatively sparsely populated, at just 2,712 residents per square mile in 2010. By comparison the average metro area had 6,321 people per square mile.

7. Greeley, CO
> Median square feet: 1,854
> Median estimated price: $224,000 (44th highest)
> Median household income: $58,611 (54th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 3.6%

Greeley had just 2,212 residents per square mile in 2010, one of the lower densities reviewed. Being a less crowded community may have helped encourage residents to build larger homes. Area homes were not only large, but also relatively expensive. The median home price in Greeley as of this past November was $224,000, among the higher values for a large metro area. Greeley’s home prices have increased at a faster rate than homes across the nation over the last five years. Residents were also relatively wealthy in 2013, with a household median income of $58,611.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME real estate

These Are the Safest States in America

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The list was compiled based on crime data, median household income, poverty rates, and educational attainment rates

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

The number of violent crimes dropped across the United States by 4.4% in 2013 compared to the year before, according to estimates released by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In the last decade, the number of violent crimes declined by nearly 15%.

In a previous interview with 24/7 Wall St., John Roman, senior fellow at public policy research organization The Urban Institute said, “A 4.4% reduction in violent crime is astonishing. If you saw a similar increase in GDP, or a similar decrease in unemployment, it would be huge national news.”

The national improvement in crime levels has not been uniform across all states, nor were the resulting crime rates. While some states were relatively more dangerous despite the improvement, others were considerably safer than most states. In Vermont, the violent crime rate dropped by more than 19% in 2013 from 2012 — the largest reduction in the country. The state was also the safest, with 115 violent crimes reported per 100,000 people.

Nationwide, 368 violent crimes were reported for every 100,000 people in 2013. Such crimes include murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery. In six of America’s 10 safest states, there were less than 200 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents. Based on violent crime rates published by the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report, these are America’s safest states.

Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter were especially uncommon in the nation’s safest states. Half of the 10 states reported less than two such crimes per 100,000 people last year, and the murder rates in all of the safest states were below the national rate of 4.5 incidents per 100,000 people. Similarly, aggravated assault rates did not exceed the national rate of 229 incidents per 100,000 Americans in any of the safest states. In three states — Kentucky, Maine, and Vermont — less than 100 assaults were reported per 100,000 state residents last year.

Not only were residents of these states relatively sheltered from violence, but other sorts of crimes were also less common. For example, nine of the 10 safest states reported less property crimes per 100,000 residents than the national rate of 2,730 property crimes per 100,000 Americans. Motor vehicle crimes in particular were especially uncommon. There were less than 100 vehicle thefts reported per 100,000 state residents in five of the 10 states, versus 221.3 such thefts per 100,000 people nationwide.

While explanations for the level of safety in a particular area are by no means concrete, socioeconomic indicators are powerful predictors of crime. Just as in large U.S. cities, income plays a major role at the state level in predicting crime levels. A typical household earned more than the national median household income of $52,250 in six of the 10 states last year. Kentucky households were the exception among the safest states, with a median income of less than $44,000.

People living in the nation’s safest states were also far less likely than other Americans to live in poverty. The poverty rate in all but two of the 10 states was lower than the national rate of 15.8% last year. New Hampshire, the sixth safest state, led the nation with just 8.7% of residents living below the poverty line in 2013.

Educational attainment rates are yet another factor contributing to violent crime. Lower levels of education result in lower incomes later in life, which in turn can contribute to higher crime rates. In addition, as Roman explained in a previous discussion at the city level, poor education is part of several structural disadvantages that make crime very difficult to address. According to Roman, addressing these underlying economic and social issues is critical to reducing crime. Unsurprisingly, residents in the safest states tended to be more highly educated. More than 90% of adults in seven of the 10 states had completed at least high school last year, versus the national rate of 86.6%. And while less than 30% of Americans had attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, more than one-third of residents in four of the nation’s safest states had done so.

To identify the safest states in America, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed violent crime rates from the FBI’s 2013 Uniform Crime Report. Property crime rates also came from the FBI’s report. The data were broken into eight types of crime. Violent crime was comprised of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; and, property crime was comprised of burglary, arson, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. In addition to crime data, we also reviewed median household income, poverty rates, and educational attainment rates from the 2013 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

These are the safest states in America.

10. Montana
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 240.7
> Population: 1,015,165
> Total 2013 murders: 22 (tied-6th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 16.5% (19th highest)
> Pct. of adults with high school diploma: 92.7% (3rd highest)

There were nearly 241 violent crimes reported per 100,000 residents in Montana in 2013, a third lower than the national rate. While the violent crime rate fell 5.1% nationwide between 2012 and 2013, it fell more than 13% in Montana. Low crime rates may be attributable to high levels of education. Nearly 93% of Montana residents had at least a high school diploma as of 2013, the third highest rate in the country. Despite the state’s relatively well-educated population, Montana struggled with poverty last year. The state’s poverty rate was 16.5% in 2013, one of only two of the safest states with a poverty rate above the national rate of 15.8%. This was likely due in part to the state’s large Native American population, which tends to be more impoverished.

Read more: States Where People Live Longest

9. Minnesota
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 223.2
> Population: 5,420,380
> Total 2013 murders: 114 (20th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.2% (7th lowest)
> Pct. of adults with high school diploma: 92.4% (4th highest)

Minnesota households had a median income of $60,702 in 2013, more than $8,000 higher than the national benchmark. Additionally, state residents were quite educated, as 33.5% of adults aged 25 and older had obtained a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, well above the 29.6% of adults nationwide. The strong socioeconomic environment likely contributed to the low violent crime rate of only 223.2 incidents reported per 100,000 residents in 2013. Overall, the state’s violent crime rate fell 3.3% despite incidents of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter increasing more than 14% between 2012 and 2013.

8. Utah
> Violent crimes per 100,000: 209.2
> Population: 2,900,872
> Total 2013 murders: 49 (14th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 12.7% (14th lowest)
> Pct. of adults with high school diploma: 91.5% (tied-9th highest)

Only 12.7% of Utah residents lived below the poverty line in 2013, more than 3 percentage points below the national rate. As in several other relatively safe states, Utah had one of the smallest income gaps between rich and poor in the country — relatively few residents lived on less than $10,000 a year and more than $200,000 a year. Despite low poverty rates and a relatively balanced income distribution, Utah was one of only a handful of states where the violent crime rate rose between 2012 and 2013, driven largely by a 10.7% increase in reported robberies.

For the rest of the list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

TIME Saving & Spending

The 10 Most Livable Countries in the World

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A surprising number one pick

This post is in partnership with 24/7 Wall Street. The article below was originally published on 247WallSt.com.

Based on the most recent release of the Human Development Index by the United Nations Development Programme, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the most and least livable countries. Data from the Human Development Index is based on three dimensions of human progress — having a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable, and having a good standard of living. According to the index, Norway is the most livable country in the world, while Niger is the least livable.

One factor that influences a country’s development is its income. The U.N. used gross national income in its calculation of the Human Development Index to reflect the standard of living in a country. In the most developed countries, gross income per capita is generally quite high. All of the world’s 10 most livable countries had among the top 30 gross national incomes per person. The top-rated country, Norway, had the world’s sixth highest gross national income per capita of $63,909.

At the other end of the spectrum, the world’s least developed countries typically had very low incomes. Six of these 10 least livable nations were among the bottom 10 countries by gross national income per capita. The Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had the lowest gross national income per capita in the world, at just $444 last year, was the second least developed country worldwide.

Click here to see the 10 most livable countries

Similarly, these countries also generally had extremely high percentage of their populations living on just $1.25 a day or less, adjusted for purchasing power. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo and in Burundi, more than 80% of the population lived on less than $1.25 per day.

Life expectancies, another factor considered in the Human Development Index, were also far better in highly developed nations. Switzerland, Australia, and Singapore were all among the top rated countries with life expectancies greater than 82 years for individuals born in 2013. By this metric, the United States is a relative laggard. The median life expectancy at birth in the U.S. of 78.9 years was ranked just 38th worldwide.

For individuals born in the world’s least developed nations, the average life expectancy was far lower. In all but one of these nations, a person born in 2013 had a life expectancy of less than 60 years. Sierra Leone, the fifth-lowest ranked nation, had the worst life expectancy, at just 45.6 years.

Sadly, among the factors contributing to these low life expectancies are, almost certainly, high mortality rates for infants and young children. Sierra Leone, which had the lowest life expectancy, also had the highest mortality rates for infants and children under five, at 117 deaths and 182 deaths per 1,000 live births.

Education also plays a role in determining development. In all but one of the most developed countries, residents aged 25 and older spent an average of more than 12 years in school. By contrast, in all of the world’s least developed countries, adult residents had less than four years of education on average.

ALSO READ: America’s Most (and Least) Educated States

The most and least developed nations also tend to be clustered geographically. Five of the 10 most developed countries are located in Europe. All of the least developed nations, on the other hand, are located in Africa, where political turmoil, health crises, and lack of infrastructure are far more common.

Despite their low scores, however, several of the world’s least developed nations have worked towards improving their economies in recent years, and their Human Development Index scores have improved as well. Mozambique is perhaps the best example. While it is still the 10th lowest rated nation, its score had risen by 2.5% per year between 2000 and 2013, faster than almost all other countries globally. Burundi’s score also rose substantially, by 2.3% per year in that time.

To identify the most and least developed nations, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the latest Human Development Index figures published by the U.N. The index included three dimensions made up of select metrics. The health dimension incorporated life expectancy at birth. The education dimension was based on the average and expected years of schooling, for adults 25 and older and newly-enrolled children, respectively. The standard of living dimension was determined by gross national income per capita. We also considered other statistics published by the U.N. alongside the index, including inequality measures, mortality measures, poverty rates, and expenditures on health and education as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP). All data are for the most recent period available.

These are the most livable countries:

1. Norway

> Human Development Index score: 0.944
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $63,909 (6th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.5 years (13th highest)
> Expected years of schooling: 17.6 years (6th highest)

According to the Human Development Index, no country is more livable than Norway. Relative to the country’s population of just 5 million, Norway’s economy is quite large. Norway had a gross national income of $63,909 per capita last year, more than all but five other nations. Oil revenue has helped Norway become quite wealthy and accounts for a majority of the country’s exports. Like several other highly-developed countries, and Scandinavia in particular, 100% of retirement age Norway residents receive a pension. Norwegians also enjoy particularly good health outcomes. There were just two deaths per 1,000 live births in 2012, tied for the lowest infant mortality rate.

2. Australia
> Human Development Index score: 0.933
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $41,524 (20th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.5 years (4th highest)
> Expected years of schooling: 19.9 years (the highest)

Australia had one of the longest life expectancies in 2013, at 82.5 years. Residents 25 and older had also spent more time in school than adults in any other country, at 12.9 years on average as of 2012. Australia’s per capita gross national income of $41,524 last year was roughly on par with other highly developed countries. Additionally, at 5.2% last year, the country’s unemployment rate was far lower than similarly developed countries in Europe as well as the United States. Australia’s economy has benefitted tremendously from a mining boom in recent years, although the economy is currently rebalancing as iron ore prices have dropped and gorwth in China — a major trade partner — has slowed.

3. Switzerland
> Human Development Index score: 0.917
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $53,762 (9th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 82.6 years (3rd highest)
> Expected years of schooling: 15.7 years (28th highest)

Known for its political and economic stability, Switzerland also had the third highest life expectancy out of all countries reviewed, behind only Japan and Hong Kong. Switzerland’s gross national income was $53,762 per capita in 2013, higher than all but a few countries reviewed. Switzerland also scored among the highest in terms of gender equality, with exceptionally high female labor participation and educational attainment rates. In addition, there were less than two teen pregnancies per 1,000 people reported in 2010, nearly the lowest adolescent birth rate. Foreigners, however, may not necessarily have option of moving to this highly livable country. Switzerland, which is not part of the European Union, recently approved quotas and other controls on immigration.

4. Netherlands
> Human Development Index score: 0.915
> Gross nat’l income per capita: $42,397 (17th highest)
> Life expectancy at birth: 81.0 years (18th highest)
> Expected years of schooling: 17.9 years (5th highest)

The Netherlands is among the more equitable countries measured by the United Nations, with a Gini coefficient far lower than that of the United States and a number of other highly developed nations. The country also scored well in gender equality due to its low maternal mortality rate, low teen birth rate, and the high level of female representation in parliament. Last year, 37.8% of representatives in parliament in the Netherlands were women, well above the 18.2% in the U.S. Congress.

For the rest of the list, please click here.

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