Tuesday, February 28, 2017 - 12:30am

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota has been recognized as the overall fourth-best state in the country in U.S. News & World Report’s first-ever “Best States” rankings released Tuesday.

Gov. Doug Burgum welcomed the recognition, saying it underscores the state’s commitment to excellence across all sectors.

“We’re thrilled that North Dakota placed higher than all but three other states in the ‘Best States’ rankings,” Burgum said. “Our top-five position is a testament to the state’s innovative and hardworking people and a strong commitment to health, education and the economy from leaders at all levels. At the same time, we recognize there is room for improvement, and that begins with creating vibrant cities, diversifying our economy and reinventing government to be more efficient and responsive to citizens.”

To determine the Best States rankings, U.S. News & World Report measured seven categories: health care, education, infrastructure, crime and corrections, opportunity, economy and government.

North Dakota had the second-best economy, the sixth-best infrastructure and the seventh-best government efficiency in the rankings.

Drilling down further, North Dakota ranked first in commute time and growth of young population, third in labor force participation and fourth in both Medicare quality and two-year college graduation rate.

U.S. News & World Report created the Best States rankings to provide a platform for citizens, government leaders and business executives alike to compare and better understand the issues, insights and best practices that matter most for states.

Massachusetts received the top overall ranking, followed by New Hampshire, Minnesota, North Dakota and Washington.

U.S. News evaluated the states across 68 metrics to create 28 rankings. The rankings are based on tens of thousands of data points provided by consulting firm McKinsey & Co., which produced a first-of-its-kind Leading States Index to give public sector leaders a snapshot of how citizens experience their states. In calculating the rankings, categories were weighted based on a national “citizen experience” survey, conducted by McKinsey, that asked people to prioritize each subject in their state and provide their levels of satisfaction with government services.

North Dakota’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annual growth rate of 7.7 percent from 2010 to 2015 was more than that of any other state and four times the national growth rate. According to the latest GDP information from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, North Dakota had positive growth during the third quarter of 2016 – the first growth in real GDP since the fourth quarter of 2014. North Dakota was cited as having the seventh-best economic growth in the quarter.

The full Best States report is available at: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states.