America still arguably offers more economic opportunity than any place on the planet. Recently, however, a broad national gauge of conditions that foster equality and social mobility has stopped increasing after five years of steady improvement.
As summarized by writer Paul Overberg, the index is produced by Opportunity Nation, a coalition of business and nonprofit groups, and Measure of America, a project of the Social Science Research Council. Among the 16 metrics in the index, income inequality, volunteerism, access to physicians and healthy food deteriorated over the past year.
There were countervailing improvements in unemployment, violent crime, housing affordability, and the rate at which people complete high school. The 2016 Opportunity Index remains stuck at 54 on a 0-100 scale. It has risen 9 percent since its introduction in 2011, when the index’s reading was slightly below 50.
The top six states in terms of offering opportunity are Vermont, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey and Maryland. At the bottom are Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada and in last place, New Mexico.