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America’s 5 best and worst states Measuring well-being in modern society.
Methodology Data primarily comes from the annual Gallup-Healthways survey of well-being. States are ranked from 1 through 50. The survey used these five measures for well-being: Purpose: Enjoying your work and feeling a drive to reach goals. Social: Having meaningful and supportive relationships. Financial: Having enough money to be secure and relatively stress-free. Community: Liking and feeling connected to where you live. Physical: Being in good health.
The 5 Worst States for Well-Being
Mississippi Purpose: 22nd Social: 42nd Financial: 50th Community: 41st Physical: 44th Mississippi has a current unemployment rate of 6.7%, putting it near the bottom in the country. The state relies heavily upon agriculture for economic development. Mississippi’s largest employers include Wal-Mart and the University of Mississippi Medical Center Overall 5th Worst
Ohio Purpose: 47th Social: 47th Financial: 36th Community: 49th Physical: 40th Ohio’s financial standing was middle-of-the-pack, with real weakness coming from a lack of community and social connections. The largest employers in the state were Wal-Mart and the Cleveland Clinic Health System. Overall 4th Worst
Indiana Purpose: 44th Social: 46th Financial: 30th Community: 42nd Physical: 45th Like Ohio, Indiana is middle-of-the-road financially. It’s possible that low scores for social and communal ties come shrinking small farming towns. Indiana’s largest employers include the Indiana University Medical Center and the Indiana University system in general. Overall 3rd Worst
Kentucky Purpose: 48th Social: 49th Financial: 46th Community: 26th Physical: 49th Though Kentucky’s financial scores are low, its unemployment rate (5.1%) is actually slightly lower than the national average (5.3%). The state’s median household income of just over $42,000, however, is among the lowest in the country. Kentucky’s largest employers include Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Ashland and Wal-Mart. Overall 2nd Worst
West Virginia Purpose: 50th Social: 48th Financial: 43rd Community: 38th Physical: 50th A state that’s traditionally counted on the mining industry, West Virginia has the worst unemployment rate in the country: 7.2%. The median household income is also among the lowest in the country. West Virginia’s largest employers include West Virginia University Medical Center and Wal-Mart. Overall: The Worst
The 5 Best States for Well-Being Photo: Brian Stansberry, via Wikimedia Commons
Montana Purpose: 10th Social: 33rd Financial: 8th Community: 2nd Physical: 9th While social interactions may be sparse, the state is in good shape. Unemployment hovers at just 3.9%, and the state has relatively low inequality. Montana’s primary industries are agriculture and mining, though travel and tourism are important as well. The state’s largest employers include The Billings Clinic and Wal-Mart. Overall 5th Best
Wyoming Purpose: 11th Social: 2nd Financial: 4th Community: 4th Physical: 12th The country’s least-populous state has very healthy scores in the survey. Wyoming also has the third-lowest levels of inequality in the USA as measured by the Gini Coefficient. Mining is the predominant industry in the state. The largest employers in the state are the FE Warren Air Force Base and Wal-Mart. Overall 4th Best
South Dakota Purpose: 4th Social: 1st Financial: 5th Community: 1st Physical: 11th Apparently, South Dakota is tops for friendship and community. It’s also a pretty good place to live financially: unemployment sits at a low 3.8%. South Dakota’s largest employers include IBP Hog Market and Avera Health. Overall 3rd Best
Hawai’i Purpose: 5th Social: 28th Financial: 1st Community: 5th Physical: 1st Hawai’i residents reported that they were the healthiest in the country: financially and physically! Unemployment sits at just 4.1% and tourism serves as the major industry. The state’s largest employers include Altres Medical and the University of Hawai’i. Overall 2nd Best
Alaska Purpose: 1st Social: 7th Financial: 2nd Community: 3rd Physical: 2nd Alaska was the only state to rank in the top ten of every category. It also has the second-lowest level of inequality in the country, as measured by the Gini Coefficient. Oil and gas exploration is the state’s biggest industry. Alaska’s largest employers include the Anchorage International Airport and Providence Health. Overall: The Best
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