Special Report

America's Most Miserable States

11. Nevada
> Well-being index score: 65
> Life expectancy: 77.6 (14th lowest)
> Obesity: 22.4% (2nd lowest)

> Median household income: $51,001 (19th highest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 84.7% (15th lowest)

Nevada had the lowest score in the well-being basic access category, which measures how residents feel about access to basic necessities, such as access to a doctor, having enough money for food and satisfaction with one’s community or area. This may not be surprising when considering that Nevada currently has an unemployment rate of 12.6% — the highest in the country. The state was among the worst hit by the housing crisis, with home prices dropping 60% since their peak in the first quarter of 2006. Again, this is the worst in the country. An additional burden on those living in Nevada is the violent crime rate. In 2010, there were 660.6 incidents of violent crime per 100,000 residents, the highest rate in the nation.

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10. Tennessee
> Well-being index score: 65
> Life expectancy: 76.2 (8th lowest)
> Obesity: 30.8% (9th highest)
> Median household income: $41,461 (6th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 83.6% (21st lowest)

Since last year, Tennessee residents feel their situation has gotten significantly worse. The state’s already-poor scores in the well-being categories that measure life evaluation, emotional health and physical health have all declined in 2011 compared to 2010. The state’s economy is in very poor shape. Unemployment is above the national average, the poverty rate is the 10th highest in the country and median income is the sixth-lowest in the country. Physical health and healthy behavior, two categories measured by the index, are among the poorest. Tennessee residents have the 14th-highest rate of smoking in the country. The obesity rate is ninth-highest rate in the country with 30.8% of residents considered obese. The state also has the fifth-highest rate of heart disease in the country.

9. Florida
> Well-being index score: 64.9
> Life expectancy: 79.7 (12th highest)
> Obesity: 26.6% (23rd lowest)
> Median household income: $44,409 (15th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 85.5% (17th lowest)

Florida’s state of well-being dropped significantly from last year, moving the state’s rank from 12th worst to ninth worst. The state had among the lowest scores in the well-being category that measures the work environment. Many Floridians do not have any work, as the state has the sixth-highest unemployment rate — currently 9.9%. State residents also are relatively unhealthy in many aspects when compared to other states. Florida has the eighth-highest rates of both heart disease and diabetes. The state also has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the U.S.

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8. Missouri
> Well-being index score: 64.8
> Life expectancy: 77.4 (12th lowest)
> Obesity: 30.5% (10th highest)
> Median household income: $44,301 (14th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 86.9% (22nd lowest)

Between 2010 and 2011, Missouri’s well-being score went from 17th worst in the country to eighth worst. Conditions in the state declined in every category Gallup measured. Missouri residents polled rated their emotional health as 14th worst in the country, down from 25th worst last year. The state also declined from 18th worst in life evaluation to third worst in the country. The state has the 11th-highest rate of smokers in the country at 21.1%. Heart disease, cancer and diabetes rates are all among the top 20, and life expectancy in the state is 77.4 years, the 12th lowest in the U.S.

7. Arkansas
> Well-being index score: 64.7
> Life expectancy: 76.1 (6th lowest)
> Obesity: 30.1% (12th highest)
> Median household income: $38,307 (3rd lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 82.9% (7th lowest)

Arkansan median household income is $38,307, the third lowest amount in the country. The share of residents living below the poverty line is 18.45%, the third highest in the country. Residents have a particularly low life expectancy of 76.1 years. The state has the fourth highest rate of smokers at 22.9% of adults, and it has the has the sixth-highest rate of cancer. Arkansas also has among the 10 lowest rates of adults with at least a high school diploma, and it is in the top 10 for violent crime.

6. Alabama
> Well-being index score: 64.6
> Life expectancy: 75.2 (3rd lowest)
> Obesity: 32.2% (3rd highest)
> Median household income: $40,474 (5th lowest)
> Adult population with high school diploma or higher: 82.1% (6th lowest)

Alabama is one of the poorest states in the U.S. In 2010, median income was just $40,474, the fifth lowest in the country, and 17.4% of the population lives below the poverty line. And state residents asked in the poll certainly feel it. The state is among the 20 worst for every category measured in Gallup’s well-being index, and is among the 10 worst for physical health, healthy behavior and work environment. This is easily explained when considering that Alabama has the third-highest rate of obesity in the country, with just under a third of the population considered overweight. The state also has the seventh-highest rate of heart disease, the seventh-highest rate of cancer, and the highest rate of heart disease. Alabama also has the third-lowest life expectancy in the U.S., at just 75.2 years.

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