Saturday, August 30, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

What are the happiest (and unhappiest?) states in America?

North Dakota, the happiest state.
North Dakota, the happiest state.

Think Hawaii must be the happiest state in America? Think again!

A recent Gallup survey measured the overall well being of all 50 states, looking at health, employment, education, and the local environment, and North Dakota came out on top.

“Due in large part to profitable oil discoveries in the region, North Dakota’s economy grew by more than 13 percent in 2012, by far the fastest growth nationwide,” according to 24/7 Wall St. Also, over 90 percent of adults in North Dakota are satisfied with their jobs, and “supervisors in the state were more likely to treat their subordinates as partners than in any other state.”

Check out the top 10 happiest states in America based on their overall well-being index, which measures the physical and emotional health of residents.

1. North Dakota
Well-being index score: 70.0

North Dakota has a life expectancy of 79.5 years, the 18-highest in the country, and at $53,585, the state’s median income is the 19-highest in the U.S. Also, more than nine out of 10 residents have a high school diploma.

2. South Dakota
Well-being index score: 70.0

North Dakota’s neighbors report high levels of good emotional health, and the state boasts the second-lowest unemployment rate in the country, at 3.6 percent.

3. Nebraska
Well-being index score: 69.7

In general, Nebraskans are highly satisfied with the condition of the their cities, and they’re among the least likely people to be depressed, along with residents of North Dakota and New Jersey.

4. Minnesota
Well-being index score: 69.7

Minnesotans have the second-highest life expectancy in the country, 81.1 years, and in 2010, they had the fewest number of heart disease-related deaths per 100,000 residents. The state’s median income of $58,906 is also one of the highest in the country.

5. Montana
Well-being index score: 69.3

Montana has the lowest obesity rate in the country, at 19.6 percent. Also, nearly all (94 percent) of adults said they are satisfied with their job.

6. Vermont
Well-being index score: 69.1

Vermont is one of the healthiest states in the country; nearly 72 percent of people surveyed said they “ate healthy all day within the past day,” and more than two thirds said they exercise regularly. Unsurprisingly, then, Vermont boasts the fifth-highest life expectancy in the country, at 80.5 years.

7. Colorado
Well-being index score: 68.9

Colorado is one of the most physically active states, and it has the second-lowest obesity rate in the country (20.4 percent). The state also has the 14th-highest median household income, at $56,765.

8. Hawaii
Well-being index score: 68.4

Hawaii fell from first place this year, but it still made the top 10 for its relatively low obesity rate and high median household income of $66,259, the fifth highest in the country. The state also boasts the highest life expectancy in the U.S., at 81.3 years.

9. Washington
Well-being index score: 68.3

Washingtonians are some of the happiest Americans at work, and they’re some of the healthiest; nearly two thirds include fruits and vegetables in their daily diet, and nearly 83 percent said they do not smoke, the highest number of non-smokers in any state.

10. Iowa
Well-being index score: 68.2

Iowans have the best access to healthy foods and safe neighborhoods, and they also boast very high job satisfaction; 90 percent of residents said they were satisfied with their jobs last year.

The report also noted the unhappiest states in the nation, based on life expectancy, median household income, education levels, and other general well-being indicators. West Virginia, which has the second-lowest life expectancy in the country (75.4 years), topped the list of unhappiest states. It also has the second-highest obesity rate (34.4 percent), and the third-lowest median income of $40,196.

Here are the unhappiest states in the U.S., according to the survey:

1. West Virginia

2. Kentucky

3. Mississippi

4. Alabama

5. Ohio

6. Arkansas

7. Tennessee

8. Missouri

9. Oklahoma

10. Louisiana

Where does your state fall on the list? Tell us in the comments!

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