Special Report

This Is the Loneliest State in America

Loneliness became an epidemic in America over the last two years. As we hit the second anniversary of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become more evident that millions of Americans spent this period on their own, or with very little contact with others. And according to review site Aging In Place, the loneliest state in America is Maine. (Maine, however, is not the state where the most people live alone.)

There are over 20 million people who live in single-person households in the U.S. Not all of these people spend their time alone, but the daily experience is very different from that of people who live in homes with more than one member. The number of people who live alone, on a percentage basis, generally increases as people get older and spikes upward for those over 75 years old.

The pandemic is not over, and though fewer people may get sick in the future, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is more likely to remain more dangerous to health than the common flu. Some degree of cautiousness around people, particularly for older adults or people with chronic conditions, will likely continue to be recommended.

Aging In Place has just released a study titled “Loneliest States: The U.S. States Where Loneliness Is Most Likely.” The authors note, “The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on all of us, but those who were already struggling with loneliness saw this become much worse during social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders.”

To determine the loneliest states in America, 24/7 Tempo reviewed AgingInPlace.org’s report. States were ranked based on Aging In Place’s 2022 loneliness score, a composite index of the percentage of single-person households, the percentage of those widowed or divorced, and the number of searches for dating apps and friendship apps, such as Tinder, Match.com, and Nextdoor, per capita. The maximum “loneliness” score for any state was 10.

There does not appear to be any geographic pattern among the states at the top of the list — the ones that rank highest for loneliness. Maine ranks first with a score of 7.60 out of 10. It is followed by Florida (often considered a retirement area) at 7.00, Ohio at 6.68, New Mexico at 6.60, and Vermont at 6.28. (These are the best and worst states for retirees.)

At the far end of the spectrum, Utah has a score of 0.72, followed by Alaska at 2.32, and Hawaii at 2.56. Once again, there is no discernible geographic pattern. Utah’s score, however, does appear to have a single cause. The researchers write: “The state has a huge Mormon community with more than half of Utahns identifying themselves as Mormons. This may contribute to the low numbers of divorce and single-person households.”

Click here for the loneliest state in America

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