The Washington Post

West Virginia is the most miserable state in the country

Living in West Virginia stinks.

That's according the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released late last month that seeks to test "Americans’ perceptions on topics such as physical and emotional health, healthy behaviors, work environment, social and community factors, financial security, and access to necessities such as food, shelter and health care to create a composite well-being rank for each state."  West Virginia ranked dead last in such categories (there are 55 of them) as "life evaluation", "emotional health", "physical health" and "healthy behaviors." Interestingly, it ranked 14th in "work environment."

Here's the full chart.

Image courtesy of Gallup.

The bottom of the (state) barrel is unchanged from 2012 with West Virginia (50th), Kentucky (49th) and Mississippi (48th) bringing up the rear. The top of the chart has a new number one with North Dakota -- and its booming oil economy -- jumping all the way from 19th in 2012 to first in 2013. South Dakota moves from 12th to second happiest in 2013.  Of the top ten happiest states, only one -- Washington -- is located on either of the nation's two coasts. (The middle of the U.S. may be flyover country but people who live there seem to love it.)

Here's the well-being index in map form. Green states are the 10 most happy followed by blue, yellow, orange and red.

Image courtesy of Gallup

When it comes to specific categories on which single states repeatedly excel, the reports says:

"Colorado, for example, is always at or near the best in the nation for the lowest obesity rate. Utah has the fewest smokers. Massachusetts has boasted the highest level of residents with health insurance all six years [of the index]. New Jersey has the lowest levels of depression. And Vermont rules America every year in produce consumption."

Putting on my political hat (yes, I have one and, no, I never really take it off), some of the early voting states in the presidential process are among the happiest too. (Politics makes people happy!) Iowa is the 9th happiest followed closely by New Hampshire at 10th.  South Carolina, on the other hand, isn't all that happy (38th) and Nevada is in the middle of the pack (26th).

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.



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Juliet Eilperin · March 1, 2014

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