Most Southern States Have Low Wellbeing
Ten Southern states have a Well-Being Index score that puts them in the lower range wellbeing group. There are also more states in the South with wellbeing scores in the lower range than there are throughout the rest of the country. Nevada, which is influenced by the poor wellbeing score in Las Vegas, is the only Western state with a lower range wellbeing score.
Many Western states, in contrast, shine in wellbeing, with 5 of the top 10 -- Hawaii, Wyoming, Alaska, Colorado, and Utah -- located in that region of the country.
Sub-Index Standouts and Sluggards
Hawaii placed first in wellbeing in part by being the best performing state on three of the six sub-indexes that make up the Well-Being Index: Life Evaluation, Emotional Health, and Physical Health. West Virginia took last place in wellbeing because of the opposite: The state was the worst performing on the same three sub-indexes.
Delaware residents continue to report the worst work environments in the country, while those living in South Dakota are the most positive about their work situations.
Vermont still boasts the best overall health habits in America, and Kentucky continues to have the worst. Massachusetts residents have the best access to necessities crucial to high wellbeing, while Mississippi residents again have the worst, with a score on this index even lower than it was in 2009.
Improving wellbeing scores will be a challenge for leaders as many states have been facing and continue to encounter significant fiscal problems, including having to close public schools, lay off or cut salaries of public workers, and cut back on public services -- all of which have the potential to affect different aspects of wellbeing.
Although money is tight, finding ways to increase residents' access to good jobs and to basic necessities -- including medical care in particular -- and decrease costly, chronic conditions such as obesity and diabetes will be the most likely means to improve wellbeing. At a time when state and local governments are challenged with being able to provide basic services, business leaders may be able to step in and play an important role in increasing wellbeing in their communities, which is good for business, as higher wellbeing means lower healthcare costs and greater economic growth.
Gallup's "State of the States" series reveals state-by-state differences on political, economic, and wellbeing measures Gallup tracks each day.
About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks U.S. wellbeing and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
To view and export trend data and for more information on each of the six Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index sub-indexes, please see the following charts: Well-Being Index, Life Evaluation Index, Emotional Health Index, Physical Health Index, Healthy Behavior Index, Work Environment Index, and Basic Access Index.