America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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26. New Mexico
> Residents who like what they do every day: 75.7% (12th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 74.3% (16th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 58.7% (5th highest)
> Poverty rate: 19.8% (3rd highest)
> Violent crime rate: 702.5 per 100,000 (2nd highest)

New Mexico ranks far worse than most states in measures of healthy communities and residents’ financial stability. For example, just 57.9% of respondents in the state are proud of where they live, and 73.1% always feel safe and secure — each among the lowest such shares of any state. Measures of community pride and perceptions of safety are likely hurt by the state’s high crime rate. There were 703 violent crimes in New Mexico for every 100,000 residents in 2016, the second highest rate nationwide. Additionally, poorer Americans are far less likely to report a high sense of well-being, and in New Mexico, 19.8% of the population lives in poverty, the third largest share of any state.

Despite some considerable socioeconomic hurdles, adults in New Mexico tend to have a strong sense of purpose. Survey results reveal that adults in the state are more likely than most to enjoy what they do, use their strengths, and learn something new — each on a daily basis.

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27. Wisconsin
> Residents who like what they do every day: 74.3% (23rd lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 74.3% (14th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 52.2% (13th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 11.8% (18th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 305.9 per 100,000 (20th lowest)

While the typical Wisconsin household earns roughly the same amount as the typical U.S. household, the low cost of living in the state — goods and services cost 7% less in Wisconsin than they do nationwide — may instill a sense of financial security. Just 12% of adults in the state believe they do not have enough money to buy food, the seventh smallest share in the country.

While Wisconsin residents are relatively free of financial troubles, they report a low degree of social well-being. Only 68% of adults believe they have someone in their lives who encourages them to be healthy, the third smallest share of any state.

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28. New Jersey
> Residents who like what they do every day: 74.1% (19th lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 73.6% (10th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 58.3% (6th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.4% (9th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 245.0 per 100,000 (12th lowest)

The typical New Jersey household earns $76,126 year, or about $19,000 more than national median. Despite the higher incomes, personal finance is a source of stress for a large share of Garden State residents. Some 35% of respondents in have worried about money in the last seven days, a larger share than in most states. Adults in the state may struggle to live within their means due to a high cost of living. Goods and services are 13.4% more expensive on average in New Jersey than they are nationwide, nearly the highest cost of living among states.

Perhaps the most important pillar of overall well-being is a strong sense of purpose, and many adults in New Jersey are lacking that sense in their lives. For example, just 55.4% of respondents in the state have a leader in their life that makes them feel enthusiastic about the future, well below the 59.5% share of American adults. State residents are also less likely than most Americans to set and reach goals each year and use their strengths to realize their potential on a daily basis.

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29. Tennessee
> Residents who like what they do every day: 74.8% (23rd highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 76.8% (9th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 53.3% (17th lowest)
> Poverty rate: 15.8% (11th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 632.9 per 100,000 (4th highest)

Americans with lower incomes are less likely to report a high level of well-being, and in Tennessee, the median annual household income of $48,547 is about $9,000 below the median U.S. income. The larger than typical share of state residents who struggle to afford food, at 16.7%, underscores the financial hardship many in the state face.

When it comes to personal well-being, money is often less important than a strong sense of purpose, and in Tennessee, 64.1% of respondents have a leader in their life who makes them enthusiastic about the future, the sixth largest share among states. Adults in the state are also more likely than most to learn something new and enjoy their work on a daily basis.

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30. Maryland
> Residents who like what they do every day: 74.3% (22nd lowest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 73.6% (9th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 55.2% (17th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.7% (3rd lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 472.0 per 100,000 (11th highest)

WIth a $78,945 a year median household income, Maryland is the highest earning state in the country. Despite the high incomes, financial concerns are just as common in the state as they are in much of the country. Of adults in the state, 34.1% worry about money on a weekly basis, in line with the 34.0% share of American adults. A high cost of living may make it more difficult for many in the state to live within their means. Goods and services are about 10% more expensive in Maryland than they are on average nationwide.

A poor sense of community further undermines overall well-being across Maryland. Just 71.8% of state residents always feel safe and secure, the third smallest share among states. Additionally, just 62.1% of adults in the state are proud of their community compared to 65.1% of American adults.