America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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16. Wyoming
> Residents who like what they do every day: 76.0% (11th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 79.1% (2nd highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 53.9% (21st lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.3% (14th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 244.2 per 100,000 (11th lowest)

One of the strongest indicators of a community’s well-being is the prevalence of crime. There were 244 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in Wyoming in 2016, far less than the national violent crime rate of 397 incidents per 100,000 Americans. When surveyed about their community, 84.7% of respondents in Wyoming agreed they always feel safe and secure, the third largest share of any state. Additionally, 70.9% of respondents claimed to be proud of their community, the fifth largest share. In addition to positive relationship with their community, Wyoming residents report a stronger sense of purpose and financial security than the residents of a majority of states.

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17. Nebraska
> Residents who like what they do every day: 76.2% (10th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 75.6% (17th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 55.0% (18th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.4% (15th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 291.0 per 100,000 (17th lowest)

Nebraska residents report a stronger sense of community than a majority of states. An estimated 83.5% of adults always feel safe and secure, the sixth largest share of any state and far more than the 77.4% national average. One factor contributing to the shared sense of safety among residents may be the state’s low violent crime rate. There were just 291 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016, far less than the national violent crime rate of 397 incidents per 100,000 Americans.

Nebraska residents also report a higher degree of financial security than most states. While Nebraska’s median household income is roughly in line with the national figure, goods and services cost 9.4% less in the state than they do nationwide. The low cost of living may contribute to the lack of financial worry.

18. Virginia
> Residents who like what they do every day: 75.2% (20th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 74.8% (24th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 56.8% (13th highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.0% (12th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 217.6 per 100,000 (4th lowest)

Wealthier Americans are more likely to report feeling financially secure and are more likely to enjoy a higher degree of well-being overall. In Virginia, 9.3% of households earn more than $200,000 annually, the sixth largest share of any state. The typical household in the state earns $68,114 a year, over $10,000 more than the national median. The state’s high incomes are likely one reason why only 32.7% of adults in Virginia regularly worry about money and only 32.6% believe they do not have enough money to do everything they want to do, each among the smaller shares of any state.

Virginians also report a high degree of physical well-being. An estimated 56% exercise regularly, and 60% of adults have at least five servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables a week, each larger than the corresponding national averages. Just 24.4% of adults report having physical pain, the eighth smallest share in the country.

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19. North Carolina
> Residents who like what they do every day: 74.2% (21st lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 75.2% (22nd highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 53.5% (18th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.4% (13th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 372.2 per 100,000 (25th highest)

North Carolina residents report a strong sense of purpose and social well-being. Approximately 55% of adults in the state believe they have reached most of their goals in the past 12 months, one of the larger shares of any state. Additionally, 77% of adults believe they receive positive energy from their friends and family on a daily basis, the sixth largest share nationwide.

Despite a strong sense of purpose and social well-being, North Carolinians report a relatively low degree of financial security. In the state, 36% of respondents said they do not have enough money to do everything they want to do. The typical North Carolina household earns about $7,000 less than the national median income, and 15.4% of residents live in poverty — one of the larger shares of any state.

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20. Connecticut
> Residents who like what they do every day: 75.4% (17th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 74.0% (13th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 58.0% (7th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.8% (4th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 227.1 per 100,000 (5th lowest)

Connecticut residents are slightly more likely to look after their physical health than the typical American. Adults are less likely to smoke, more likely to eat healthy, and less likely to be obese than adults in the majority of other states. The healthy behaviors appear to be having a positive effect as 58% of adults in the state view their own health as near perfect, slightly more than the 55% share of adults nationwide.

Connecticut’s adults are also more likely than most to report a high level of financial well-being. The typical household in the state earns $73,433 a year, about $16,000 that the national median. The higher incomes help a greater share of Connecticut residents to live within their means. Some 45% of survey respondents have enough money to do everything they want to compared to 42% respondents across all states.