America’s Happiest and Most Miserable States

According to a Gallup poll released today, the United States has shown almost no improvement in well-being in the past five years, increasing slightly from 2011 when Americans reported the most miserable scores since the survey began. The top and bottom states have also remained nearly the same. West Virginia, which received the lowest well-being score in 2012, has routinely been in the bottom two, and Hawaii ranked highest for the fourth year in a row.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which has surveyed 1.7 million Americans since the survey was first conducted in 2008, reflects the physical and emotional health of residents in each of the 50 states. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the scores of each state in the six categories that comprise Gallup’s index to identify objective measures that impact well-being.
Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport explained to 24/7 Wall St. that well-being is important because happier, healthier citizens tend to have positive social and economic impacts on the places they live. “Well-being is important because of the hypothesis that it leads to good outcomes,” Newport said. “If your citizens have high well-being, they’re more likely to be better citizens and engage in better behaviors and make things better all the way around. It’s a positive goal for those that look at what we ought to emphasize in society.”
Among the 55 questions Gallup asked residents in each of the past five years, there were certain categories that the states with low well-being tended to do poorly in and high well-being states tended to do well in. States with high well-being had populations that smoked less, exercised more and tried to learn new things each day. These states also tended to share the outcomes of those behaviors and activities — residents had lower levels of key health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart attacks, and had more energy.
Of the data 24/7 Wall St. considered in addition to Gallup’s indices, several showed a strong relationship with well-being. It appears that states with happy residents tended to have much lower poverty rates and higher median income. The states with the highest levels of well-being all have poverty levels below the national rate. Having stable income is important because it enables people to meet basic needs such as healthy food, clean water, medicine and health care.
We also found a strong relationship between employment and high school graduation rates and well-being. All 10 high well-being states had unemployment rates lower than the national average. All 10 states were in the top 15 for adults with a high school diploma.
In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Gallup research head Dan Witters explained how these may be connected. Health and emotional well-being, he noted are more likely to be present in “a more vibrant, more intellectually and psychologically attuned citizenry.” These people are more likely to be attractive to employers and to lead fulfilling lives. Witters added that healthier populations attract employers because they present less of a health care expense.

While many of the happiest and most miserable states have remained the same, many other states, Witters added, have seen significant improvement over time. In particular, seven states — Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont and Wisconsin — have shown statistically significant improvement. What’s more, these states all improved in the same few categories. These included obesity, smoking, access to basic needs and safety. “I think there’s a good learning opportunity there for other states,” said Witters. “If you look at those states that have moved the needle, they’ve gotten there through similar means.”
According to 24/7 Wall St.’s analysis, states in some areas of the country continue to do better than others. Of the 10 states with the highest levels of well-being, the majority are either in the West or Midwest. Of the 10 states with the lowest well-being scores, eight are located in the South. This has been the case since the survey began.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed all 50 U.S. states based on their scores in Gallup-Healthway’s 2012 Well-Being Index. On top of calculating an overall national level of well-being, the index also calculates the well-being for each state, assigning scores from 0 to 100, with 100 representing ideal well-being. The national score increased marginally in 2012, from 66.2 in 2011 to 66.7 in 2012. In generating the rank, Gallup combined six separate indices, measuring access to basic needs, healthy behavior, work environment, physical health, life evaluation and optimism, and emotional health. In addition to the index, we considered data from the U.S. Census Bureau, including income, poverty and the percentage of adults with a high school diploma or higher, all for 2011. From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we reviewed state unemployment rates as of December 2012. We looked at life expectancy at birth, as of 2007, from the Kaiser Health foundation. We also considered violent crime rates for 2011 by state from the FBI Uniform Crime Report Program. All data are for the most recent period available.
These are America’s Happiest and Most Miserable States.

1. Hawaii
> Well-being index score: 71.1
> Life expectancy: 81.5 years (the highest)
> Obesity: 25.7% (20th lowest)
> Median household income: $61,821 (8th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.6% (10th highest)
In Gallup’s 2012 well-being index, Hawaii performed better than any other state. It ranked first or second in five of the six categories that make up the index, and 14th in basic access to care. Hawaii’s residents reported being generally happier with their current lives than those of any other state. They were also a more optimistic group. More than two-thirds of Hawaiians reported not feeling stressed, compared to just 52.8% of West Virginians who could say that. A larger proportion of Hawaiians exercise than any state but Alaska, and residents also eat healthily and do not smoke. At the latest count, life expectancy at birth in the state was 81.5 years, by far the best in the country.
2. Colorado
> Well-being index score: 69.7
> Life expectancy: 79.9 years (9th highest)
> Obesity: 18.7% (the lowest)
> Median household income: $55,387 (15th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.2% (15th highest)
Coloradans were among the most likely Americans to practice healthy behaviors, such as exercising regularly and eating fruits and vegetables. They were also among the least likely to smoke and among the most likely to report easy access to a safe place to exercise. Their healthy behavior appears to be paying off. Colorado was rated the best state for physical health in the United States, having some of the nation’s lowest rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Colorado residents were also among the nation’s healthiest emotionally, and they had high evaluations of their own lives.
3. Minnesota
> Well-being index score: 68.9
> Life expectancy: 80.9 years (2nd highest)
> Obesity: 24.7% (13th lowest)
> Median household income: $56,954 (11th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 92.0% (2nd highest)
Gallup found that Minnesota had better emotional health than all but two states. Some 86% of Minnesotans reported they did not feel an excessive amount of sadness during the previous day, a higher percentage than all but one state. In addition, Minnesotans ranked third in the physical health category. Nearly 83% of survey respondents said they did not have health problems that prevented them from doing activities typical of their age group — a higher-percentage than any other state. According to the most recent data, Minnesotans had the second-highest life expectancy of any state. Also, more than 78% of respondents said poor health did not get in the way of their usual daily activities, a higher percentage than all but one state.
4. Utah
> Well-being index score: 68.8
> Life expectancy: 80.1 years (8th highest)
> Obesity: 23.9% (6th lowest)
> Median household income: $55,869 (14th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.3% (14th highest)
Utah residents had higher evaluations of their present lives and higher expectations for the future than residents of nearly every other state. More than 55% of respondents were thriving, while less than 3% were considered to be suffering based on their assessments of their present and future quality of life. In addition to strong evaluations of their own lives, Utah residents had better emotional health and a higher quality of their work environment than residents of most other states. Nearly 70% of respondents told Gallup they had recently learned something new or interesting, a higher percentage than any other state.
5. Vermont
> Well-being index score: 68.6
> Life expectancy: 79.7 years (12th highest)
> Obesity: 25.7% (20th lowest)
> Median household income: $52,776 (19th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 91.8% (4th highest)
Vermont residents display healthier behaviors than any other state in the United States. For example, nearly 72% of Vermont residents told Gallup that they ate healthily all day during the previous day, a higher percentage than any other state except Rhode Island. In fact, nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had at least at least five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in four of the past seven days, a higher proportion than any other state. Nearly 60% of residents said they exercised for at least 30 minutes in three of the past seven days, a higher percentage than all but two other states. The state had among the lowest poverty rates in the country, which may help explain why Vermont residents reported having good access to most basic needs. The state had the second-smallest proportion of residents say they did not have enough money to feed their families.
6. Montana 
> Well-being index score: 68.5
> Life expectancy: 78.4 years (24th lowest)
> Obesity: 22.0% (3rd lowest)
> Median household income: $44,222 (13th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 92.3% (the highest)
Montana appears to have a healthy, well-educated workforce. The state has low unemployment and the highest proportion of adults with a high school degree in the country. State residents were among the most likely to report being in a good work environment. Over 92% of individuals surveyed said they were satisfied with their jobs or the work they did, more than in any other state. Additionally, over 60% stated they felt treated like a partner by their supervisor, higher than all but one other state. Residents also practiced healthy behavior and were more likely than residents of nearly all other states to exercise 30 minutes a day for three days each week. Montanans were among the most likely Americans to eat five servings of fruit and vegetables at least four times a week — even though residents were also among the most likely to claim that finding affordable fruits and vegetables was difficult.
7. Nebraska
> Well-being index score: 68.5
> Life expectancy: 79.2 years (21st highest)
> Obesity: 27.9% (18th highest)
> Median household income: $50,296 (22nd highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 91.0% (7th highest)
When it comes to making healthy choices, Nebraska is actually among the worst states in the country. In only one other state did a smaller percentage of those surveyed report eating a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables. The state also performed poorly in the exercise category, with nearly 49% of residents not exercising a healthy amount each week. Despite this, Nebraska residents were in the top 10 for physical health. While the state predictably had issues with certain conditions such as diabetes and obesity, state residents were rarely kept out of work due to physical ailments, and they reported feeling well rested. This might be explained by the low workplace stress levels residents experienced. A full 92% of residents reported being satisfied with their job, and 72.7% were worry-free the previous day, both among the best rates in the country.
8. New Hampshire
> Well-being index score: 68.4
> Life expectancy: 79.7 years (12th highest)
> Obesity: 25.1% (17th lowest)
> Median household income: $62,647 (6th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 91.4% (6th highest)
New Hampshire scored higher than nearly all states in terms of basic access to necessities. Almost 88% of survey respondents in the state said they had a personal doctor, higher than all but three states and well above the 78.3% of people across the country who answered yes to that question. Furthermore, 73.1% of residents said they had visited a dentist within the past 12 months, a higher percentage than all states except for Connecticut and Massachusetts. The low poverty rate of just 8.8% may explain why more of these residents have access to quality health care. The state also ranked seventh highest in terms of healthy behaviors. For instance, nearly 62% of respondents reported they had five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in four of the past seven days, the third highest of all states.
9. Iowa
> Well-being index score: 68.1
> Life expectancy: 79.68 (15th highest)
> Obesity: 29.0% (10th highest)
> Median household income: $49,427 (24th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.6% (10th highest)
Iowa ranked behind only Massachusetts and Minnesota in the basic access to necessities category. Almost all residents felt they had access to clean water, while more than 83% felt safe walking alone at night — both among the best in that category. Further, more than 85% of Iowans stated they could afford food at all times over the preceding 12 months — well above the 81.6% for the U.S. overall. Nearly 94% felt they could afford shelter at all times as well, a figure that trails only New Hampshire and South Dakota. Iowans are also among the happiest with their work environments, generally feeling that they are satisfied by their jobs, treated well by their bosses, and using their strengths. However, residents were also more likely to smoke and less likely to eat healthily than the average American.
10. Massachusetts
> Well-being index score: 68.1
> Life expectancy: 80.1 (6th highest)
> Obesity: 21.5% (2nd lowest)
> Median household income: $62,859 (5th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 89.2% (19th highest)
Massachusetts residents feel things are moving in the right direction for them, expressing a high degree of optimism. Massachusetts residents also had better access to resources ensuring their well-being. The state had the highest health insurance coverage rate in the country, together with the fifth-highest median income in 2011, less than 15% of residents reported being unable to pay for health care. However, the state did not do so well in terms of emotional health, scoring seventh worst in the country. Nearly 35% of respondents reported feeling worry in a given day, a higher percentage than all but four states.
11. Maryland
> Well-being index score: 68.0
> Life expectancy: 78.1 years (18th lowest)
> Obesity: 27.0% (23rd highest)
> Median household income: $70,004 (the highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.9% (21st highest)
Maryland scored higher than any other state, except Hawaii, in terms of life evaluation — the only category in which it scored within the top 10. Nearly 58% of residents were considered to be thriving based on self evaluations, a higher percentage than any other state, except Hawaii. Meanwhile, just 39.2% of people were considered to be struggling, once again the second lowest behind Hawaii, and well below the 43.5% of people across the country. The average Maryland resident is doing a lot better than people in most states. The median household income in 2011 was $70,004, the highest in the country. Also, only 10.1% lived below the poverty line, lower than all states except for New Hampshire.
12. South Dakota
> Well-being index score: 68.0
> Life expectancy: 79.9 years (11th highest)
> Obesity: 26.3% (24th lowest)
> Median household income: $48,321 (23rd lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.6% (10th highest)
When asked if the place they lived was improving, South Dakotans were more likely to say “yes” than any other state. The state has the third-lowest unemployment rate in the country, and more than 56% of those surveyed by Gallup described themselves as thriving. However, residents were not as likely to believe their own lives were improving. While residents evaluated their current lives as prosperous, they were slightly more pessimistic about the next five years than Americans elsewhere. Despite this pessimism, respondents from the state were among the least likely to say they had felt a large amount of sadness, anger or depression the day before. South Dakota residents were also among the most likely to feel they had access to basic necessities, including health care, shelter and clean water.
13. Wyoming
> Well-being index score: 67.9
> Life expectancy: 77.6 years (15th lowest)
> Obesity: 24.7% (13th lowest)
> Median household income: $56,322 (13th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 92.0% (2nd highest)
Wyoming scored higher than every state except for Hawaii in terms of emotional health with almost 89% of respondents saying they experienced a high amount of enjoyment the previous day. In addition, more than 72% of people said they didn’t experience a lot of worry during the previous day, a higher percentage than all but four states, and solidly above the 68% of people who felt the same way across the country. The state had the fourth-lowest unemployment rate in the country at the end of 2012, and in the work environment category, Wyoming also scored higher than any state except Hawaii. However, the state didn’t score better than most of its peers in every category. It was among the worst third in life evaluation, with a higher than average percentage of people identified as struggling.
14. Virginia
> Well-being index score: 67.7
> Life expectancy: 78.5 years (25th highest)
> Obesity: 26.2% (23rd lowest)
> Median household income: $61,882 (7th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.8% (24th lowest)
Virginia’s residents evaluated their lives as being among the best in the country, and they were optimistic as well. Virginia is one of the wealthiest states in the country, with a very low poverty rate. This likely affected its strong score for basic access to needs, as a relatively high proportion of residents reported being able to afford shelter and healthy fruits and vegetables. Not only can they afford them, but more than 60% of residents reported eating a recommended number of healthy fruits and vegetables. The state ranks 15th for basic access to needs, such as healthy food and water, and 22nd for healthy behavior.
15. Washington
> Well-being index score: 67.7
> Life expectancy: 79.65 years (17th highest)
> Obesity: 24.4% (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $56,835 (12th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.1% (16th highest)
Washington residents were among the survey respondents with the healthiest behaviorsOf those surveyed, 83% were non-smokers, higher than in any state, other than California and Utah. Washington also placed in the top third of all states for eating healthily all day, eating fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly. In addition, respondents reported a better quality of work environment than those in most other states. However, the state’s performance on Gallup’s emotional health and physical health indices was only roughly in line with the U.S. as a whole.
16. Connecticut
> Well-being index score: 67.6
> Life expectancy: 80.2 years (5th highest)
> Obesity: 22.7% (4th lowest)
> Median household income: $65,753 (4th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 89.1% (20th highest)
Connecticut scored higher than all but three states in terms of physical health. Almost 82% of state residents indicated that they had no health problems preventing them from doing activities normal for their age, higher than all but two states. Based on their body mass index, more than 77% of Connecticut residents were not obese, the fourth-highest percentage of all states. Connecticut also ranked in the top 10 for healthy behaviors. For instance, more than 71% of residents responded that they ate healthily all day the prior day, higher than all but two states. And more than 61% of residents ate at least five servings of fruit and vegetables at least four of the previous seven days, the fourth-highest percentage among states. Perhaps partially as a result of this healthy activity, Connecticut residents have the fifth-highest life expectancy in the country.
17. Kansas
> Well-being index score: 67.6
> Life expectancy: 78.4 (25th lowest)
> Obesity: 26.3% (24th lowest)
> Median household income: $48,964 (25th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.0% (17th highest)
Kansas residents received mediocre ratings for their health behaviors. In its study, Gallup found that Kansans were less likely than residents of many other states to eat healthily all day, or to eat fruits and vegetables regularly. Despite their relatively poor dietary habits, Kansans ranked on par with the rest of the country for the quality of their physical health, and had roughly the same likelihood of being obese as Americans in general. In addition, Kansans reported a high quality of emotional health. More than 87% of respondents said they had an enjoyable experience the day before being surveyed, while nearly 85% stated they had not felt considerable sadness the day before.
18. California
> Well-being index score: 67.4
> Life expectancy: 80.4 years (3rd highest)
> Obesity: 23.1% (5th lowest)
> Median household income: $57,287 (10th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 81.1% (3rd lowest)
California residents demonstrated healthier behaviors than those of nearly all other states. The percentage of residents who smoked was lower than in any state except Utah, while respondents also indicated they were highly likely to eat healthily all day and to exercise three times a week. However, residents in California also struggled at times to access basic health and safety necessities. Less than 66% felt safe walking alone at night, while just 87.3% said they had enough money for adequate shelter at all times in the last 12 months — both measures among the worst in the nation. As of December 2012, California had the second-worst unemployment rate.
19. North Dakota
> Well-being index score: 67.4
> Life expectancy: 80.1 years (6th highest)
> Obesity: 27.8% (19th highest)
> Median household income: $51,704 (20th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.7% (9th highest)
North Dakota ranked higher than all but five states in terms of emotional health. Nearly 94% of respondents indicated that they were treated with respect all day during the prior day, while more than 85% said they smiled a lot in the previous day. Both figures were the second highest among all states, with only Hawaii residents reporting better results. Also, North Dakota’s physical health was higher than all but four states. Nearly 79% of residents said they didn’t experience poor health that kept them from doing normal activities in the last 30 days, a higher percentage than any other state. North Dakota’s weakest score was in the healthy behaviors category, where it ranked 13th from the bottom.
20. Wisconsin
> Well-being index score: 67.3
> Life expectancy: 79.3 years (18th highest)
> Obesity: 27.1% (22nd highest)
> Median household income: $50,395 (21st highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.4% (13th highest)
Wisconsin was one of the top ranked states on Gallup’s emotional health index. More than 71% of residents indicated they had no worries the day before being surveyed, while nearly 84% said they were not depressed the day before — better than most states in both instances. Residents were also among the nation’s most likely to have access to basic necessities, especially inexpensive fruits and vegetables, as well as health care. Residents also tended to feel very safe walking alone at night. The state has the ninth-lowest violent crime rate in the country.
21. Maine
> Well-being index score: 67.3
> Life expectancy: 78.7 years (24th highest)
> Obesity: 27.5% (20th highest)
> Median household income: $46,033 (19th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 90.9% (8th highest)
Residents of Maine were among the least-optimistic people in the U.S., according to Gallup. Maine is one of just six states in which less than half of the residents were described as thriving, based on their evaluations of their current and future lives. Maine also received poor scores in the emotional health category. State residents were less likely than residents of most other states to feel they were consistently treated with respect the previous day, or to have smiled or laughed that day. However, not all indicators of the state’s overall well-being were negative. Residents were rated by Gallup as having healthier behavior and better work environments than residents of nearly all other states.
22. Idaho
> Well-being index score: 67.1
> Life expectancy: 79.2 years (20th highest)
> Obesity: 24.4% (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $43,341 (11th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.6% (23rd highest)
Although Idaho did not score in the top 10 in any of the six major categories, the state scored in the top third in three of them: 15th in terms of emotional health, 14th in healthy behaviors and 11th in basic access to necessities. Some responses to the survey were among the 10 best of all states. In terms of emotional health, 87.3% of Idaho residents indicated they experienced a lot of enjoyment the previous day, the fifth highest of all states. Further, 82% of Idaho residents indicated that they don’t smoke, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. As for physical health, just over 24% of people were considered obese, the ninth lowest of all states.
23. Arizona
> Well-being index score: 67.1
> Life expectancy: 79.9 years (9th highest)
> Obesity: 24.1% (7th lowest)
> Median household income: $46,709 (21st lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 85.7% (17th lowest)
In most of the well-being categories, Arizona didn’t rank anywhere near the top, nor did it rank particularly close to the bottom. The only category in which the state performed well was work environment, where it ranked ninth. Nearly 59% of workers indicated that their supervisor treated them more like a partner than a boss, the eighth-highest percentage of all states. Although the state ranked below-average in terms of physical health, the obesity rate — one of the most important health indicators because of its strong link to other ailments — is lower than most states. Slightly more than 24% of residents were considered obese, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. Life expectancy is Arizona is nearly 80 years, among the highest rates in the country.
24. Oregon
> Well-being index score: 67.1
> Life expectancy: 79.0 years (22nd highest)
> Obesity: 25.4% (19th lowest)
> Median household income: $46,816 (22nd lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 89.4% (18th lowest)
Oregon’s residents generally practiced healthy behavior. Nearly 82% of residents did not smoke, more than 60% ate five servings of fruits and vegetables four times a week, and over 55% exercised three times a week. Despite these good habits, Oregon was one of the lower rated states in Gallup’s physical health index. Among the individuals surveyed in the state, just 76% were not held back by poor health from participating in normal activities, and just 72.4% of respondents indicated their current health did not keep them from their usual activities. Both were among the worst response rates in the country. Respondents were also among the most likely to have reported back pain, knee pain or otherwise recurring pain to Gallup.
25. New Mexico
> Well-being index score: 66.7
> Life expectancy: 78.2 years (20th lowest)
> Obesity: 24.6% (12th lowest)
> Median household income: $41,963 (8th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 83.2% (7th lowest)
New Mexico ranked eighth-highest among all states in terms of life evaluation. On a scale of one to 10, residents ranked their life a 7.1. This score was higher than all other states. The state also ranked eighth-highest in terms of healthy behaviors. For instance, 82.1% of New Mexico residents indicated that they do not smoke, the sixth-highest percentage of all states. Furthermore, 56.7% of residents in New Mexico indicated that they exercised for at least 30 minutes in three of the last seven days, the ninth-highest percentage of all states. However, New Mexico scored badly in terms of work environment, ranking seventh from the bottom. Just 54.3% of people indicated their supervisor treated them more like a partner than a boss, less than the 56.5% across the country indicated the same thing.
26. Delaware
> Well-being index score: 66.6
> Life expectancy: 78.3 years (23rd lowest)
> Obesity: 26.3% (24th lowest)
> Median household income: $58,814 (9th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.0% (20th lowest)
In each of the six well-being categories, Delaware generally ranked in the middle of the pack. Delaware’s best scores came in both life evaluation and emotional health, where the state ranked 18th highest. In terms of emotional health, nearly 93% of respondents indicated they had been treated with respect the previous day, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. Delaware’s biggest weakness was in work environment. Just 83% of respondents said they get to use their strengths at work, the fourth-lowest percentage of all states. Yet the state did well in some parts of the category. More than 82% of respondents indicated that their supervisor always created an environment that was open and trusting, the third-highest percentage of all states. It could help that many in Delaware are in higher-paid — and thus likely more autonomous — positions. The median household income in 2011 was $58,814, the ninth-highest of all states and more than $8,000 more than the national median.
27. Texas
> Well-being index score: 66.6
> Life expectancy: 78.3 years (21st lowest)
> Obesity: 28.9% (12th highest)
> Median household income: $49,392 (25th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 81.1% (3rd lowest)
Texas was one of the nation’s fastest growing states in 2011. That year, the state’s economy grew by 3.3%. Despite a strong economy, basic access to necessities was still more-lacking in Texas than in most other states. Responses from residents surveyed indicated that the state was among the worst for easy access to clean water, and that 13.1% of Texans at some point in the previous year could not afford shelter — worse than all but two states. However, 65.9% of those surveyed in the state believed the place they live was improving, higher than all but two states and eight percentage points better than the U.S. overall.
28. Illinois
> Well-being index score: 66.6
> Life expectancy: 78.8 years (23rd highest)
> Obesity: 26.0% (22nd lowest)
> Median household income: $53,234 (18th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.2% (21st lowest)
Illinois’ highest score was for the physical health of its residents, ranking seventh best of all states. For one, just under 81% of residents indicated they had no health problems within the last 30 days that prevented them from engaging in age-appropriate activities, the seventh-highest percentage of all states. Meanwhile, 76.2% of residents noted they were not held back from daily activities in any given day in the past 30 due to poor health, the ninth-highest percentage of all states. Despite the residents’ relative good health, they didn’t display particularly healthy behaviors, scoring in the bottom third of all states in this category. For instance, only 55.5% of residents ate five servings of fruits and vegetables in four of the previous seven days, among the lowest of all states.
29. Pennsylvania
> Well-being index score: 66.5
> Life expectancy: 78.2 years (19th lowest)
> Obesity: 27.9% (18th highest)
> Median household income: $50,228 (23rd highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.6% (23rd highest)
Pennsylvania’s strong suit in the well-being index was in its residents’ access to basic needs, in which the state ranked in the top 20. The state was in the top 10 for health insurance coverage, citizens with a personal doctor and the availability of medicine. Pennsylvanians have below-average emotional health, and even worse job satisfaction. The state ranked in the bottom third in work environment with a lower-than average percentage of respondents indicated they were treated like an equal by their employers, and that they did what they did best each day on the job.
30. New York
> Well-being index score: 66.2
> Life expectancy: 80.4 years (4th highest)
> Obesity: 24.9% (15th lowest)
> Median household income: $55,246 (16th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 85.0% (16th lowest)
New York was the largest of eight states in which unemployment did not fall in 2012. Many residents who were employed did not like their jobs either. Just 84.3% of respondents told Gallup they were satisfied with their jobs, the worst figure in the U.S. Also, only 76.4% said their supervisors promoted trust, the second-worst such figure. New York was also ranked among the worst states for the percentage of respondents who stated they had experienced enjoyment — and not sadness and anger — in the previous day.
31. Alaska
> Well-being index score: 66.1
> Life expectancy: 78.3 (22nd lowest)
> Obesity: 26.4% (24th highest)
> Median household income: $67,825 (2nd highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 91.8% (4th highest)
Alaska scored among the bottom 10 in two of the six categories for well-being: work environment and basic access to necessities. According to Gallup, Alaska had the fourth-worst work environment of all states. Just 52.9% of residents indicated that their supervisor treated them like a partner, while just 77.9% said their supervisor always created an environment that was trusting and open. Both of these figures were several percentage points below the national average and the sixth-lowest of all states. However, Alaska ranked fourth of all states in terms of life evaluation. More than 56% of Alaska residents were described as thriving, the fourth highest of all states. The state also scored the eighth highest in terms of emotional health. For instance, more than 68% of residents indicated they learned something interesting in the prior day, the fourth-highest percentage of all states.
32. New Jersey
> Well-being index score: 66.1
> Life expectancy: 79.66 (16th highest)
> Obesity: 24.4% (9th lowest)
> Median household income: $67,458 (3rd highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.1% (25th lowest)
Much like their neighbors in New York, residents of New Jersey scored low in indicators of emotional health. Respondents from the state were among the most likely to tell Gallup they had experienced worry, sadness or anger within the last day. They were also among the least likely to note they experienced enjoyment or happiness in the previous day. Like New Yorkers, employed New Jerseyans were among the most likely Americans to note that they did not feel satisfied in their jobs and did not have a supervisor who promoted trust. Many employees, though, may feel fortunate just to have a job. As of December, the state’s unemployment rate of 9.6% was the nation’s fourth highest — up a nation-leading 0.5 percentage points from the year before.
33. Georgia
> Well-being index score: 66.1
> Life expectancy: 77.1 years (10th lowest)
> Obesity: 28.6% (14th highest)
> Median household income: $46,007 (18th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.3% (13th lowest)
Georgia had a mixed well-being record, scoring above average in some areas and well below in others. Of all the six well-being categories, Georgia’s worst score was in work environment, where the state ranked 11th from the bottom. For instance, only 86.2% of workers indicated that they were satisfied with their job or the work they do, the ninth-lowest of all states. However, Georgia scored in the top third in the life evaluation category. Georgians were very optimistic about the future. On a scale of one to 10, they rated their expectations for life in five years an 8 out of 10, the second highest of all states. Although far from the best, the 54.1% of people who indicated they were thriving at the time of the survey was within the top third of all states.
34. Florida
> Well-being index score: 65.8
> Life expectancy: 79.7 years (12th highest)
> Obesity: 25.1% (17th lowest)
> Median household income: $44,299 (14th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 85.9% (18th lowest)
Florida’s rank in the access to basic needs category was among the worst of all states. The state’s median income was more than $6,000 below the national median, and it was in the top third for poverty. In 2012, state residents were among the least likely to be able to provide adequate shelter for their families or have enough money to pay for necessary health care. In the past year, the state’s unemployment rate improved significantly, rising from sixth worst to 16th-worst. However, employed residents tended to be among the least satisfied with their work. One positive for Florida was that residents were more likely to engage in healthy behaviors, with an above-average rate of people getting exercise, as well as the fourth-highest rate of healthy eating.
35. North Carolina
> Well-being index score: 65.7
> Life expectancy: 77.2 years (11th lowest)
> Obesity: 28.9% (12th highest)
> Median household income: $43,916 (12th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.7% (14th lowest)
North Carolina’s worst score was for work environment, in which it ranked 12th from the bottom out of all states. Just over 86% of Gallup respondents indicated they were satisfied with either their job or the work they did, the 10th lowest percentage. The state also scored in the bottom third in terms of physical health. Almost 28% of residents have been told by a physician or nurse that they had high cholesterol, the fifth-highest percentage of all states. In addition, 32.3% of residents have been told they had high blood pressure, the 10th highest percentage. North Carolina managed to rank in the top half only in one category, and even there barely. The state ranked 25th for emotional health.
36. Michigan
> Well-being index score: 65.6
> Life expectancy: 77.9 years (17th lowest)
> Obesity: 28.5% (15th highest)
> Median household income: $45,981 (17th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.8% (22nd highest)
Michigan underperformed the country’s average scores in nearly all of Gallup’s categories used to measure well-being. The state received especially poor scores in physical health, with residents more likely to report recurring pain in their neck or back, their knees or legs, or elsewhere. The state also rated poorly in the emotional health category, with residents more likely to report feeling disrespected or stressed. Among possible contributing factors to low physical and emotional health ratings could be the higher than average rate of smokers in the state and the very low rate of job satisfaction. Michiganders also had among the highest unemployment rates in the country as of December 2012.
37. Rhode Island
> Well-being index score: 65.5
> Life expectancy: 79.3 years (19th highest)
> Obesity: 24.3% (8th lowest)
> Median household income: $53,636 (17th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.8% (15th lowest)
Rhode Island has the second-highest unemployment rate in the country. For those people who do have jobs, the state scored dead last in the category of work environment. It was the only state where under 80% of respondents said that they get to use their strengths at work to do what they do best. Rhode Island also scored third from the bottom in terms of emotional health. For instance, just over 80% of people indicated that they smiled or laughed a lot the previous day, the fourth-lowest percentage of all states. Moreover, just over 90% of the population said they had been treated with respect during the previous day, the third-lowest percentage. Not all was bad, however. The physical health of the state’s residents was ranked ninth best of all states.
38. Missouri
> Well-being index score: 65.5
> Life expectancy: 77.4 years (12th lowest)
> Obesity: 27.2% (21st highest)
> Median household income: $45,247 (15th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.6% (23rd lowest)
Missouri ranked eighth worst in terms of healthy behaviors. A mere 62% of respondents indicated that they ate healthily all day the previous day, the third-lowest percentage of all states. Missouri also ranked eighth worst in the life evaluation category. For instance, 4.7% of respondents to the Gallup survey were considered to be suffering, tied with Kentucky for third worst, behind West Virginia and Arkansas. The one well-being category where Missouri performed better than most states — ranking 17th — was work environment.
39. Nevada
> Well-being index score: 65.2
> Life expectancy: 77.6 years (14th lowest)
> Obesity: 24.9% (15th lowest)
> Median household income: $48,927 (24th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.0% (9th lowest)
Nevada ranked third from the bottom in terms of life evaluation. Only 49% of respondents from the state indicated that they were thriving, the third-lowest percentage of all states. Nearly as many respondents, 46.7%, indicated that they were struggling, the third-highest percentage of all states. Much of this could be due to the lingering results of the Great Recession. The housing market crash and subsequent high unemployment hit Nevada harder than any other state. The state’s unemployment rate as of December 2012 was 10.2%, tied with Rhode Island for the highest in the country. Nevada also ranked fourth from the bottom in terms of basic access to necessities. Just under 92% of residents said it was easy to get clean drinking water, while just 87.5% said it was easy to get medicine, the third- and fourth-lowest percentages of all states, respectively.
40. South Carolina
> Well-being index score: 65.2
> Life expectancy: 76.6 years (9th lowest)
> Obesity: 27.9% (18th highest)
> Median household income: $42,367 (9th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.2% (12th lowest)
In 2011, South Carolina was one of the nation’s poorest states. That year, 18.9% of the state’s population lived below the poverty level, while median household income was just $42,367, both of which were among the worst figures in the nation. The state has often lacked the jobs necessary to help people improve their lives. In December 2011, the state had an unemployment rate of 9.6%, one of the nation’s worst that month. By December 2012, this rate had fallen to 8.4% but remained 12th worst out of the 50 states. Even workers who are employed often dislike their jobs. According to Gallup, South Carolina had one of the nation’s worst work environments. Palmetto State workers were less likely to say they were satisfied with their jobs, or that they used their strengths at work, than respondents in most other states. South Carolina was also among the lowest scoring states concerning workers who felt treated like equals by their supervisors.
41. Oklahoma
> Well-being index score: 65.2
> Life expectancy: 75.6 years (5th lowest)
> Obesity: 29.2% (9th highest)
> Median household income: $43,225 (10th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 86.3% (19th lowest)
Oklahoma scored among the bottom in most of the well-being categories. The state was sixth from the bottom in terms of healthy behavior. Just 73.1% of respondents refrained from smoking, while just 62.2% said they ate healthily the previous day, both among the lowest percentages for all states. Perhaps due to unhealthy behaviors, Oklahoma also had the seventh-worst physical health in the country, and life expectancy at birth as of 2007 was just 75.6%, the fifth-lowest of all states. The only well-being category in which Oklahoma did not score in the bottom quartile was work environment, where the state scored higher than all but seven states. More than 82% of respondents indicated that their supervisor always cultivated an open and trusting work environment, the sixth-highest percentage of all states.
42. Indiana
> Well-being index score: 65.1
> Life expectancy: 77.7 years (16th lowest)
> Obesity: 28.8% (13th highest)
> Median household income: $46,438 (20th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 87.3% (22nd lowest)
Indiana ranked second from the bottom in terms of healthy behaviors, with only Kentucky performing worse. A mere 48.7% of state residents indicated that they exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes in three of the last seven days, the lowest percentage of all states and significantly lower than the 62.2% in top-ranked Alaska. Furthermore, just 54.1% of residents indicated that they had five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in four of the previous seven days, lower than all states except for North Dakota and Nebraska. Perhaps because of these behaviors, Indiana ranked 10th from the bottom for physical health.
43. Louisiana
> Well-being index score: 64.7
> Life expectancy: 75.4 years (4th lowest)
> Obesity: 30.9% (4th highest)
> Median household income: $41,734 (7th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 82.5% (4th lowest)
Louisiana scored near the bottom in several different well-being categories. It ranked fifth lowest in terms of healthy behaviors. For instance, just 54.4% of respondents indicated that they had five or more fruit and vegetable servings in four of the past seven days, the sixth-lowest percentage of all states. The state also ranked third from the bottom for basic access to necessities. Just over three-fourths of people indicated that they had health insurance coverage, lower than all states except for Texas. It doesn’t help that the state’s median income of $41,734 was one of the lowest in 2011, and nearly $9,000 lower than the national median.
44. Ohio
> Well-being index score: 64.6
> Life expectancy: 77.5 years (13th lowest)
> Obesity: 29.5% (8th highest)
> Median household income: $45,749 (16th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 88.3% (25th highest)
Ohio ranked seventh worst in the Gallup report when it came to its residents’ healthy behaviors. Nearly 28% of the population smoked, the third-highest percentage of all states. In addition, Ohio was one of just four states where less than half the respondents indicated that they exercised a minimum of 30 minutes a day in three of the previous seven days. Perhaps due to unhealthy behaviors, Ohio ranked eighth from the bottom in terms of physical health. Almost 30% of the population was considered obese based on their body mass index, the eighth-largest percentage of all states. Moreover, only 68.3% of residents indicated they felt well-rested during the prior day, the eighth-lowest percentage of all states.
45. Alabama
> Well-being index score: 64.2
> Life expectancy: 75.2 years (3rd lowest)
> Obesity: 30.4% (5th highest)
> Median household income: $41,415 (5th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 82.7% (5th lowest)
Alabama ranked third from the bottom in the physical health category. A hefty 36.4% of respondents indicated they had been told by a doctor or a nurse that they had high blood pressure, while 13.6% of residents were told they had diabetes. Both figures were the third highest among all states. These could be outcomes of poor health behaviors by Alabamians. As much as 26% of Alabama residents noted they smoked, the eighth-highest percentage of all states. Meanwhile, just 50.6% of residents indicated they exercised for a minimum of 30 minutes in at least three of the past seven days, the seventh-lowest of all states. Life expectancy at birth as of 2007 was just over 75 years old, lower than all but two states. The state also ranked 10th from the bottom in terms of emotional health.
46. Arkansas
> Well-being index score: 64.1
> Life expectancy: 76.1 years (6th lowest)
> Obesity: 31.4% (3rd highest)
> Median household income: $38,758 (3rd lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 83.8% (8th lowest)
Arkansas ranked in the bottom 10 in all but one of the well-being categories. The state ranked fourth from the bottom in terms of physical health. A higher percentage of people were told they had cancer compared to any other state. More than 31% of respondents were clinically obese, a higher percentage than all but two states. Arkansas also ranked fourth from the bottom in healthy behaviors. Over 27% of the population indicated that they smoked, the fourth-highest rate of all states. The average life expectancy in the state was just over 76 years old, the sixth-lowest of all states. Good health could be impeded by the state’s low income. The state’s median household income of $38,758 in 2011 was the third lowest of all states.
47. Tennessee
> Well-being index score: 64.0
> Life expectancy: 76.2 years (8th lowest)
> Obesity: 29.6% (7th highest)
> Median household income: $41,693 (6th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.2% (12th lowest)
According to the FBI, Tennessee had the nation’s highest violent crime rate in 2011, at over 608.2 violent crimes per 100,000 residents. This likely affected the state’s rank in Gallup’s access to basic necessities category, which included a question about being able to walk alone at night safely. The state ranked 11th worst in the U.S. in that question. In addition, Tennesseans reported some of the most critical conditions when it came to their own working environments. They were also among the Americans most likely to report they had poor health behaviors, such as not eating well. Just under 62% of Tennesseans indicated they ate healthily all day the day prior to being surveyed–worse than every state but Kentucky. Such unhealthy behavior potentially contributed to the state’s low scores for both emotional and physical health. Residents were among the nation’s most likely to reveal they felt sad or depressed, and also among the most likely to have high blood pressure or cholesterol.
48. Mississippi
> Well-being index score: 63.6
> Life expectancy: 74.8 years (the lowest)
> Obesity: 32.2% (2nd highest)
> Median household income: $36,919 (the lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 81.1% (3rd lowest)
Mississippi ranked lower than any other state in Gallup’s basic access to necessities category. For instance, nearly 25% of state residents indicated they did not have enough money to buy food for themselves or their family at some point in the last 12 months, the highest percentage of all states. Such problems are likely due to the state’s high-poverty rate and overall low incomes. The state’s median household income of $36,919 was the lowest of all 50 states, and the poverty rate of 22.6% was the highest. The lack of basic access to necessities may partly help explain why Mississippi ranked sixth from the bottom in terms of physical health. More than 38% of residents indicated they were told by a doctor or nurse that they had high blood pressure, a higher percentage than any state except for West Virginia. In addition, 15.4% of residents were told they had diabetes, more than any other state.
49. Kentucky
> Well-being index score: 62.7
> Life expectancy: 76.2 years (7th lowest)
> Obesity: 29.7% (6th highest)
> Median household income: $41,141 (4th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 83.1% (6th lowest)
The state has one of the lowest proportions of adults with a high school degree, as well as the fourth-lowest median income in the country. Kentucky also ranked dead-last in terms of healthy behaviors. A mere 60.7% of respondents said they ate healthily the day before, by far the lowest of any state. Not surprisingly, Kentucky also ranked second from the bottom in terms of physical health. As many as 29% of people indicated they had health problems that prevented them from doing age-appropriate activities, a higher percentage than any state other than West Virginia. Kentucky also ranked second from the bottom in the life evaluation and emotional health categories.
50. West Virginia 
> Well-being index score: 61.3
> Life expectancy: 75.2 years (2nd lowest)
> Obesity: 33.5% (the highest)
> Median household income: $38,482 (2nd lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.2% (12th lowest)
West Virginia residents’ well-being was the worst of all states. It scored dead last in three of the six categories: life evaluation, emotional health and physical health. The answers of West Virginians to questions in the physical health category were particularly alarming. It was the only state where more than 30% of residents were told by a physician or nurse that they had high cholesterol. In addition, nearly 40% of respondents were told they have high blood pressure, also the highest of all states. Unhealthy behaviors could be causing these problems. For instance, just 62.2% of West Virginians indicated they ate healthily the previous day, the fifth-lowest percentage of all states. Moreover, 31.4% of respondents indicated that they smoked, the highest percentage of all states. The state had the second-lowest median income in the U.S., and a very high proportion of those surveyed in the state reported not being able to afford food or medicine. West Virginians had the second-worst life expectancy at birth in the country.Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

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