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Is life getting better or worse?
In changing times, varied perceptions

Over the past 30 years, the United States has changed rapidly. Population growth has altered the size and makeup of our cities, the recession has caused massive job losses, and the income gap between rich and poor has widened. Here, we take a look at how people's perceptions of change in their area match up with the way things really are. Let us know what you think:

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 thinks life in  is getting .
What do you think?

Do you think life in North Carolina is getting better or worse?

Do you think life in Jackson County, N.C. is getting better or worse?

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Middle age

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See how your state stacks up:

 people have rated states

Percent growth from 2000-10:

More than 15%


Less than 5%

Unemployment rate in August 2011:

More than 9%


Less than 6%

Median household income in 2010:

More than $60,000


Less than $45,000


*States with no votes are counted as neutral

How  has changed since 1990

Rate of population change

Unemployment rate

Median household income

Your area

Is life in
getting better or worse?

XX  rated life in .
You think life in  is getting .


said worse



said better


Recent comments

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Comments from around the country


Title of this set

Makeup of the population:








Median household income as a percentage of the highest level in the country

Highest Population

Mississippi had the lowest income in the country in 2010, with the median household bringing in $36,851.
North Dakota had the lowest unemployment rate of any state, with only 3.3 percent in 2010.
Michigan was the only state that actually lost population in the 2010 census. The population dropped by .6% percent, cutting the population by 54,804 people.

Fastest growing

High Unemployment

The median household income in Maryland was $68,854 in 2010, the highest of any state.
The unemployment rate in Nevada was 14.9 percent in 2010, the highest in the country.
Nevada grew by 35.1 percent from 2000 to 2010, faster than any other state. It now has a population of 2,700,551 people. California still has the highest population of any state, with 37,253,956 people.

How states rank:

Highest Population

Fastest growing

Lowest unemployment

Highest income*

*Household income

NOTE: This is not a scientific survey. It reflects the opinions of Washington Post readers who have submitted ratings. Comments are moderated so it may take a few minutes for them to show up on this page. SOURCE: U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics. GRAPHIC: Kat Downs and Dan Keating - The Washington Post. Published Oct. 29, 2011. Contact us with questions or comments.

A look at 30 years of census data

census map

Explore census data going back to 1990 that explores trends in plurality, population growth and family type.

Unemployment by county


See how unemployment rates have fluctuated across the United States since 2007.

How does your income compare?

Income comparison

Have you ever wondered how your income compares to your peers? Use this interactive tool to find out.