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Housing to crypto to wellness: How California fares in 20 national rankings

We live in a ranking age with lists of “best” and “worst” and “in-between” touching every slice of life, industry and geography.

Some of these scorecards are based on polling. Others are data-based, trying to decipher government or business stats. And some are simply opinions – individual or consensus.

Yes, these rankings can be discussion starters – whether for policy debate or just plain fun. Before the chats get too intense, be aware that the creation of these grades is far more art than statistical science.

I’m bemused at the wave of state-vs.-state rankings that flow into my inbox at work. Most of these scorecards are not created to advance societal conversations. Rather, they’re promoted in hopes of generating online attention for a company that likely paid somebody to create “best/worst state” buzz.

Not that these state grades themselves aren’t interesting. So, I waded through my inbox to find 20 rankings for California that might intrigue somebody.

20 scorecards

No. 1 spending per capita on clothing and footwear, according to shopping stats tracked for QR Code Generator.

No. 2 costliest housing gap – average wage for bachelor’s degree holders vs. median rent for a one-bedroom apartment – says U.S. Census Bureau figures tracked by

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No. 2 lowest percentage of its population as young homeowners, from a review of census data for Agent Advice.

No. 3 largest average business borrowings, says an analysis of Small Business loans from 2020-2023 by CreditDonkey.

No. 3 biggest three-year jump in diabetes diagnoses to 2021, says a peek at government health stats by Diabetes Strong.

No. 3 most online searches per capita looking for ways to become self-employed, according to a study by QRFY.

No. 3 obsessed with cryptocurrency, according to CoinLedger that looked at online search volume for crypto-related terms.

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No. 3 most desirable work/life balance, says ranking by Plus Docs tracking government jobs stats.

No. 4 best place to start a business, says a study of business applications by Schmidt & Clark.

No. 5 best for overall wellness, says a ranking by Gayfriendly comprising 14 health factors.

No. 5 top place to study as a marketer in college, according to a review of 18 different metrics by Ahrefs.

No. 5 best for women entrepreneurs, based on a peek at seven metrics by Lendio.

No. 6 worst in providing timely medical care, from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality data studied for Parrish Law.

No. 8 happiest families, as measured by weddings-to-divorces ratio, says Census analysis for Bedbible.

No. 8 lowest share of population reporting depression, says a look at Center for Disease Control stats for

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No. 8 highest per capita searches for online courses per person, according to study for Freedom Bound Business.

No. 9 most likely place to get burglarized, according to grading of crime states for Suzuki Law.

No. 14 toughest to get a driving learner’s permit, says gradings done for Zanes Law.

No. 13 lowest risk of household mold, says a look at climate patterns for FDP Mold Remediation.

No. 16 highest share of population aged 25 years or over with at least a bachelor’s degree, from a look at government graduation data for

Bottom line

To be honest, let’s state a caveat: Who would send a journalist a pitch highlighting “California ranks 25th” in blah-blah-blah? Middle-of-the-pack rankings are boring. Thus, my inbox has a bias toward the cases where California is an outlier – good or bad.

So any conclusion, if one might draw anything meaningful from this rather random collection of stats, is that California is an expensive place with both good and troubling characteristics.

Did you need 20 scorecards to tell you that?

Jonathan Lansner is the business columnist for the Southern California News Group. He can be reached at

Source: Orange County Register

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