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24/7 Wall St.: America's 10 Happiest States

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America's 10 Happiest 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.

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.


More From 24/7 Wall Street:
States with the Best and Worst Schools
States Where Residents Pay the Most in Taxes
The Best and Worst-Run States in America

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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