Special Report

America's Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

The Happiest States in America

10. Texas
> Poverty rate: 17.5% (13th highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.3% (17th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 30.9% (15th highest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.2 (9th lowest)

Based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, Texas residents had the 10th highest well-being in the nation. Texas residents were among the most likely to be content with their jobs and be motivated to achieve their goals, with the state ranking second in the purpose category, one of five elements of well-being in Gallup’s Index. Texans worked 36.3 hours per week in 2013, the most nationwide. This may reflect in part Texans’ motivation and workplace satisfaction. Texans were not especially healthy, however, with an obesity rate of nearly 31% in 2013 and relatively few residents reporting routine exercise. More than 22% of residents did not have health insurance in 2013, the worst rate nationwide, which may have made it more difficult for Texans than most Americans to get the medical care they need. Despite these poor physical health indicators, nearly 71% of adolescents in the state were vaccinated in 2013, one of the higher rates, and less than 16% of adults were smokers, one of the lower smoking rates reviewed.

ALSO READ: The Worst Paying Jobs for Women

9. New Mexico
> Poverty rate: 21.9% (2nd highest)
> Unemployment rate: 6.9% (24th highest)
> Obesity rate: 26.4% (13th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.7 (24th lowest)

Unlike most states with the happiest residents, a typical household in New Mexico had relatively low income in 2013, earning a median of less than $44,000. The median national household income was $52,250 that year. New Mexico also had an exceptionally high poverty rate, at nearly 22% in 2013, the second highest nationwide. While many New Mexico residents struggled with financial burdens, they tended to be in relatively good physical health. For example, the obesity rate of 26.4% was among the lower rates in the nation. Residents reported relatively few cases of high blood pressure and high cholesterol as well, which likely contributed to a lower incidence of heart disease. There were 147 heart disease-related deaths per 100,000 people in 2013, the 10th lowest such rate in the country. On Gallup’s survey, New Mexicans rated their physical health and habits fifth best in the country.

8. Utah
> Poverty rate: 12.7% (14th lowest)
> Unemployment rate: 4.4% (4th lowest)
> Obesity rate: 24.1% (4th lowest)
> Poor mental health days (last 30 days): 3.5 (18th lowest)

Utah is one of only a few states where less than one-quarter of adults were obese in 2013. Residents were also the least likely in the nation to report high blood pressure and high cholesterol that year. Utah residents generally reported healthy behaviors, which likely helped contribute to the good health outcomes and the state’s high well-being. Utah adults were the least likely to be smokers, with only 10.3% reporting the habit in 2013. Traditionally low smoking rates may have helped Utah residents stay healthy and out of the hospital. Between 2010 and 2012, there were less than 146 cancer-related deaths per 100,000 people, the lowest rate nationwide. In addition to strong physical health, Utah residents also liked where they lived, felt safe, and reported having pride in their community — the state ranked seventh in the nation in Gallup’s community element of well-being. Like most states scoring well in this category, Utah’s violent crime rate of 209 incidents per 100,000 people in 2013 was among the lowest in the country.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.