Is dismal, according to a recent report by the Commonwealth Fund. Arizona ranks 49th in the nation – only Mississippi and Nevada rank worse. The state ranks in the bottom quartiles on 16 out of 20 measures and in the top quartile on only one measure: the percent of high school students not meeting recommended physical activity levels.
Not surprisingly, Arizona has the second highest percentage of residents living in poverty (21.2%). The gap between Arizona’s richest and poorest families is 20th largest in the nation, but the gap between the richest families and families in the middle is 8th largest. Essentially, the rich are getting richer, the poor are getting poorer, and the people in the middle are getting squeezed. This situation is hardly unique to Arizona, but it goes a long way toward explaining our relative position on health, education and other socio-economic indicators.
The race to the bottom continues. Under current state policies, there likely will be no KidsCare enrollees by 2015. Apparently, the only thing not racing to the bottom is money from the top. High-wage businesses aren’t flocking to the state to set up shop, and with even a cursory examination of the social indicators, one can understand some of the reasons why.
The only way to ensure a healthy future is to invest in it. That is what Arizona needs to do today.