America’s Happiest (and Most Miserable) States

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1. South Dakota
> Residents who like what they do every day: 82.3% (the highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 78.0% (4th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 61.5% (the highest)
> Poverty rate: 13.3% (24th highest)
> Violent crime rate: 418.4 per 100,000 (19th highest)

According to a Gallup survey assessing different self-reported gauges of well-being, South Dakota ranks as the happiest state. State residents report a particularly high sense of purpose. In the survey, 82.3% of respondents agreed they liked what they do every day, 62.7% believed they have reached most of their goals in the past year, and 75.1% said they get to use their strengths in their daily work — each the largest share of any state. South Dakota’s healthy job market may help some workers in the state find a job that best utilizes their talents. Just 3.3% of the workforce is unemployed, one of the lower unemployment rates in the country. State residents also rank highly in financial health and community pride.

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2. Vermont
> Residents who like what they do every day: 75.2% (21st highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 79.3% (the highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 61.3% (2nd highest)
> Poverty rate: 11.9% (19th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 158.3 per 100,000 (2nd lowest)

Based on a national survey assessing the five components of well-being — sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security, relationship to community, and physical health — Vermont residents are in better physical health than any other state. Nearly 60% of Vermont adults do not exercise regularly, the sixth largest share of any state. Similarly, 62.4% of respondents report eating a healthy amount of fruits and vegetables weekly, the third largest share in the country. Just 19.2% of adults are obese, less than the nationwide adult obesity rate of 28.2% and the lowest of any state.

When surveyed about their their community, 86.5% of Vermont respondents always feel safe and secure. The state’s low violent crime rate likely contributes to the strong sense of safety among its residents. There were just 158 violent crimes per 100,000 residents in 2016, the second best of any state and less than half the national rate.

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3. Hawaii
> Residents who like what they do every day: 78.3% (4th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 72.8% (6th lowest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 55.4% (16th highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.3% (2nd lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 309.2 per 100,000 (21st lowest)

When surveyed about their sense of purpose, 78.3% of respondents in Hawaii agreed they like what they do every day, and 55.7% agreed that they reached most of their goals in the past year — each some of the largest such shares of any state. One factor likely contributing to residents finding such a strong sense of purpose in their daily lives may be the state’s strong job market. Just 2.4% of Hawaii’s labor force is unemployed, the lowest unemployment rate among states.

Hawaii residents also report a higher degree of social well-being than those of all but two other states. Of state resident surveyed, 78.9% report receiving positive energy from their friends and family on a daily basis, the largest share of any state. Additionally, 76.9% of adults in the state have someone in their life that encourages them to be healthy, also the largest share of any state.

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4. Minnesota
> Residents who like what they do every day: 77.9% (5th highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 77.0% (7th highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 54.7% (21st highest)
> Poverty rate: 9.9% (6th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 242.6 per 100,000 (9th lowest)

Based on a national survey assessing the five components of well-being — sense of purpose, social relationships, financial security, relationship to community, and physical health — Minnesota residents have a stronger sense of financial security than residents of nearly any other state. Just 10.5% of respondents report not having enough money to buy food, the second lowest share after North Dakota. Also, 49.2% agree they have enough money to do everything they want — the second highest share of any state other than North Dakota. The area’s high median income is likely one factor contributing to the strong sense of financial security among Minnesota residents. The typical Minnesota household earns $65,599 a year, nearly $8,000 more than the national median household income. Just 9.9% of residents live in poverty, the sixth lowest poverty rate of any state.

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5. North Dakota
> Residents who like what they do every day: 81.6% (2nd highest)
> Residents w/ a strong social relationship: 78.1% (3rd highest)
> Residents in near perfect physical health: 57.7% (10th highest)
> Poverty rate: 10.7% (10th lowest)
> Violent crime rate: 251.1 per 100,000 (13th lowest)

When asked about their financial security, less than half of survey respondents in North Dakota said a lack of money prevented them from doing everything they want to do, and 43.9% reported they had not worried about money in the past week — each the smallest share of any state.

The state’s high incomes, low cost of living, and low unemployment likely contribute to the strong sense of financial security among residents. The typical state household earns $60,656 a year, or about $3,000 more than the U.S. median household income. Goods and services cost 7.7% less in North Dakota than they do nationwide on average. Just 3.2% of the state’s workforce is unemployed, less than the 4.9% national unemployment rate and the fifth lowest of any state.