North Dakota was able to push out reigning “happiest state” Hawaii in an annual survey that measures Americans’ sense of well-being. West Virginia was revealed as the unhappiest state for the fifth year in a row.
North Dakota made the huge leap to first after coming in at number 19 in the previous poll conducted by the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. South Dakota came in a close second, moving up from 12th place, while Hawaii came in eighth after coming in first the previous five years.
West Virginia and Kentucky came in last and second to last, respectively.
The poll is based on more than 178,000 interviews of American adults in all 50 states between January and December 2013. The poll is averaged out from six sub-indexes, which examine a person’s life evaluation, emotional health, work environment, physical health, healthy behaviors and basic access to necessities such as healthcare.
According to the poll, North Dakota ranked top in two sub-indexes: work environment and physical health.
A reason for this may because the state has experienced a job boom, according to Gallup.
Midwestern and Western states took up nine of the top ten highest well-being scores. Other states that join the Dakotas in the top ten happiest states are Nebraska, Minnesota, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, Hawaii, Washington and Iowa.
The South is highly represented in the bottom ten, which is made up of Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas, Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi, Kentucky and finally, West Virginia.
These regional patterns of well-being are aligned with previous years.
Residents in Kentucky and West Virginia reported poor physical health and low incomes.
The poll shows well-being has steadily increased in 11 states since 2010.