Healthiest places to live: 4 N.J. counties make U.S. News ranking

Healthiest Communities, which judges counties on 10 categories, puts 4 from N.J. in Top 100 of list of more than 3,000 areas

Four New Jersey counties are among the Healthiest Communities in the United States in the fifth annual U.S. News & World Report Healthiest Communities list, which was released Wednesday morning.

The rankings, drawn from an examination of nearly 3,000 counties and county equivalents in 89 metrics across 10 categories, gave high marks to these four counties:

  • No. 16: Morris;
  • No. 27: Hunterdon;
  • No. 67: Somerset;
  • No. 75: Bergen.

Five additional New Jersey counties made the Top 400:

  • No. 228: Sussex;
  • No. 250: Burlington;
  • No. 256: Monmouth;
  • No. 330: Warren;
  • No. 337: Middlesex.

U.S. News & World Report officials said the Healthiest Communities rankings and analysis platform explores how communities across the U.S. are working to improve the health of their residents. The project was done in collaboration with CVS Health.

Amid the growing threat of climate change, the 2022 edition incorporates new data on environmental health, and is accompanied by an analysis showing which types of natural disasters pose the greatest threats to various racial and ethnic populations, U.S. News officials said.

New this year in the Environment category of the rankings, data on natural disasters from FEMA’s National Risk Index highlights the threats faced by communities across the country. According to an accompanying U.S. News analysis of the index and U.S. Census Bureau data, Indigenous people are the most at risk from natural hazards. They have higher risks when it comes to sustained periods of colder temperatures, droughts, river and stream flooding and wildfires, compared with other racial and ethnic groups.

“The data behind the Healthiest Communities rankings provides a deep dive into the state of health equity in our country,” Kim Castro, editor and chief content officer at U.S. News, said. “By examining data on natural hazards, we can see how various demographic populations are affected by the risks tied to their environment.”

The Healthiest Communities project includes additional resources alongside the rankings. For the third year in a row, county-level coronavirus data on metrics such as cases, deaths and vaccination rates are available through the COVID-19 and Your Community data hub.

Earlier this year, CVS Health launched Health Zones, an initiative that provides concentrated local investments designed to reduce health disparities and advance health equity in underresourced communities across the country. Health Zones is an integrated approach to addressing six key social determinants of health: housing, education, access to food, labor, transportation and health care access.

Working with trusted national and local partners, CVS Health is addressing community health care needs, ensuring at-risk communities have access to resources and opportunities that can help them thrive.

To compile the rankings and create the overall Healthiest Communities project, U.S. News partnered with the University of Missouri Extension Center for Applied Research and Engagement Systems, or CARES, a research institution skilled in community health assessment.

Overall, the rankings are based on metrics drawn from sources such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Los Alamos County in New Mexico was ranked No. 1 overall for the second consecutive year.

Here’s a look at the overall Top 10:

  1. Los Alamos County, New Mexico;
  2. Falls Church, Virginia;
  3. Douglas County, Colorado;
  4. Morgan County, Utah;
  5. Carver County, Minnesota;
  6. Sioux County, Iowa;
  7. Ozaukee County, Wisconsin;
  8. Hamilton County, Indiana;
  9. Broomfield County, Colorado;
  10. Delaware County, Ohio.