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These Are Gallup's 'Most Miserable' & 'Happiest' States

"...wellbeing across states remains essentially static, reflecting the continuing sluggish economy."

Yep, it’s that time again. Apparently, pollsters can’t get enough of these surveys. Truth be told, neither can we. Last time The Blaze did a “top whatever” list, we looked at the most loved and hated states in America.

This time, let's take a look at Gallup’s annual “Well-Being Index."

So what did Gallup find after surveying 353,492 U.S. adults?

“High unemployment, poor access to basic necessities such as food, shelter and medicine, and rising obesity rates continue to plague many of America's Southern states,” writes Business Insider’s Dina Spector.

Really? Gallup found Southern states suffer from “poor access” to food, shelter, and medicine? That sounds a bit…drastic.

West Virginians were the least likely to describe themselves as “thriving” and received the unflattering distinction of being the state with the “highest percentage of obese residents.”

Mississippi performed the worst in the “Basic Access Index,” which measures residents' access to “items essential to wellbeing, including enough money for food, shelter, and medicine; a safe place to exercise; and satisfaction with one's community.”

Delaware, for the third year in a row, has “the worst workplace perceptions.” The “Work Environment Index” measures issues that include “a trusting and open work environment and whether an employee is able to use his or her strengths to do what he or she does best every day.”

All in all, “Southern states accounted for half of the 10 lowest wellbeing scores,” the report found.

 

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Here are the top 5 “most miserable” states, according to the “wellbeing” index:

5. Ohio

Life Evaluation: No. 46

Emotional Health: No. 41

Physical Health: No. 40

Healthy Behavior: No. 42

Work Environment: No. 41

Basic Access: No. 32

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4. Delaware

Life Evaluation: No. 41

Emotional Health: No. 40

Physical Health: No. 41

Healthy Behavior: No. 35

Work Environment: No. 50

Basic Access: No. 30

 

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3. Mississippi

Life Evaluation: No. 34

Emotional Health: No. 32

Physical Health: No. 48

Healthy Behavior: No. 46

Work Environment: No. 49

Basic Access: No. 50

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2. Kentucky

Life Evaluation: No. 49

Emotional Health: No. 50

Physical Health: No. 49

Healthy Behavior: No. 49

Work Environment: No. 8

Basic Access: No. 40

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1. West Virginia

Life Evaluation: No. 50

Emotional Health: No. 49

Physical Health: No. 50

Healthy Behavior: No. 44

Work Environment: No. 25

Basic Access: No. 48

 

So what about these “happy” states?

“Hawaii residents had the highest wellbeing in the nation in 2011 with a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index score of 70.2, maintaining that state's No. 1 status for a third consecutive year,” the Gallup report found.

Told you it was the sarong.

“North Dakota, Minnesota, Utah, and Alaska rounded out the top five states,” the report adds.

Hawaiians scored well in the “Emotional Health and Healthy Behaviors” indexes, Alaskans were the most likely to say they were "thriving,” and North Dakota residents say they have the best work environments in the country.

Wait -- what are the “Emotional Health and Healthy Behaviors” indexes?

“In terms of emotional health specifically, Hawaiians were the most likely to say they smiled or laughed a lot ‘yesterday’ and the least likely to report daily worry or stress and to have ever been diagnosed with depression,” Gallup reports. “Residents' good eating and exercise habits and lower smoking rates earned them the distinction of having the best healthy behaviors in the nation.”

Laughing and smiling? Really? These are the metrics we’re going to use?

Here are the top 5 “happiest” states, according to the “well-being” index:

5. Alaska

Life Evaluation: No. 1

Emotional Health: No. 3

Physical Health: No. 20

Healthy Behavior: No. 14

Work Environment: No. 11

Basic Access: No. 47

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4. Utah

Life Evaluation: No. 5

Emotional Health: No. 12

Physical Health: No. 17

Healthy Behavior: No. 6

Work Environment: No. 5

Basic Access: No. 8

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3. Minnesota

Life Evaluation: No. 7

Emotional Health: No. 5

Physical Health: No. 1

Healthy Behavior: No. 18

Work Environment: No. 7

Basic Access: No. 2

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2. North Dakota

Life Evaluation: No. 3

Emotional Health: No. 2

Physical Health: No. 8

Healthy Behavior: No. 33

Work Environment: No. 1

Basic Access: No. 10

 

1. Hawaii

Life Evaluation: No. 1

Emotional Health: No. 2

Physical Health: No. 1

Healthy Behavior: No. 4

Work Environment: No. 44

Basic Access: No. 4

 

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Are there any national implications to this report?

“The Well-Being Index score for the nation was 66.2 in 2011, down slightly from 66.8 in 2010 and the lowest score Gallup and Healthways have recorded since tracking began in 2008,” the report states. “The decrease in the overall score in 2011 is because of small declines across all six of the sub-indexes that comprise the Well-Being Index.”

But perhaps most importantly, the “wellbeing across states remains essentially static, reflecting the continuing sluggish economy."

“While some states are standouts year after year, even those places have yet to see significant improvement in residents' overall wellbeing since the financial crisis of 2008,” the report adds.

It continues:

Improving wellbeing poses a challenge for leaders as many states continue to face severe fiscal problems, reductions in public services, public-sector layoffs or salary cuts, and decreases in federal aid. High unemployment, static or declining salaries, and overwhelming debt burdens -- all of which have the potential to affect different aspects of wellbeing -- continue to challenge residents.

Final thought: is it a coincidence that the majority of states with high “well-being” rankings are located far, far away from Washington, D.C.? That has got to count for something.

Click here to see Gallup's methodology

One last thing…
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